Unwanted spring items showing up in plastic recycling in Winston-Salem

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- You might think you are doing a good job recycling your plastic bottles. But according to the Carolinas Plastics Recycling Council, 70 percent of plastic bottles are thrown away. At Waste Management's recycling center in Winston-Salem, they are seeing the opposite.

"Folks can put everything in one large cart and they don’t have to separate anything and roll it out. What we have seen is a big spike in volume and the increase in recycling because we made it easier,” said Stan Joseph, Waste Management community and municipal relations manager.

But is recycling too easy? Along with collecting paper and plastics, Waste Management is also picking up your unwanted springtime equipment. Joseph says, "I don’t think people always purposely try to contaminate the recycling stream. I think they want to do the right thing and try to recycle.”

During the spring season, workers sorting cans, paper and plastics find more water hoses in the recyclables.

"A lot of people put it in their recycling carts and that’s not one of the items we recycle. It’s not a product that’s a commodity. The rubber in there we can’t put it through our stream,” Joseph said.

Plus, water hoses wrap around the gears of the sorting machines, shutting down the equipment. The process of separating all of the paper, cans and plastics can't start again until the water hoses are cut out of the machine.

"When that happens, it creates a lot of problems and creates more intense labor," Joseph said.

Plus it creates an added cost. Unwanted springtime items like water hoses and worn lawn mower tires have to be taken to the landfill.

If you are not sure about what to recycle, you can call your town's recycling department or go to recycleoftenrecycleright.com.