Thousand of Toledoans are recycling the wrong items

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TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - City leaders say thousands of people are recycling the wrong items and now Toledoans will pay the price. This spring residents will start getting fined and landlords may also be held accountable.

The city of Toledo admits it has a big recycling contamination problem. Some homeowners and tenants treat those blue recycling bins more like garbage containers. Why? City leaders say they found a gap in it's recycling education program.

"Most of our education materials are mailed out with the water bills. Water bills do not go to the occupant they go to the land owner," said Director of Public Service Paul Rasmusson.

They're working with the EPA to clean up the recycling issues. City leaders say they can't keep advising homeowners, landlords or tenants that they have failed.

"Will you start fining people," asked reporter Alexis Means.

"That's the goal. That is the only way that will impact people. We haven't determine the exact mechanism, but we really need to look at a penalty." said Rasmusson.

The director of public service says the penalties will likely start in the spring when city workers hit the streets to re-inspect the bins. City workers are finding trash bags full of recyclables, food contaminated containers and plastic bags that shouldn't be in the bin. There's a sticker on the top of your bin that tells you what you can recycle.

"If everybody did things right they wouldn't have no problem," said resident James Whalen.

"They're just being careless they don't care. You got people who just don't care. That's the whole problem in Toledo," said resident Linda Oliver.

13abc has learned about 10,000 homes received bins without stickers during the city's pilot program.

"Those will get re-stickered this time around. That's part of the grant that we got funding for. You're right, that's not the entire thing. People are putting things in bags. Everything should go into the bin loose. The sorting center and processing center deems it a bag of garbage. They don't have the ability to open it and spill it out on the belt," said Rasmusson.

Rasmusson says the City of Toledo is paying two million dollars to process items and that burden falls on the city and you.