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El Paso residents frustrated with changes to recycling service

Trash and recycling bins sit out curbside for pickup.
City of El Paso
Trash and recycling bins sit out curbside for pickup.

EL PASO, Texas -- After the city's announcement to change recycling pickup from every week to every other week, residents voiced their concerns with ABC-7.

Several residents told ABC-7 they fill their blue bins up every week. ABC-7 brought up those concerns with the environmental services department.

"There's a couple of people who have already called that say they fill their blue bins to the absolute brim every single week and I'm always very curious as to why that is or how to be consuming so many products to have that much recyclable (items)," said Ellen Smyth, director of the City of El Paso's environmental services department.

"Some of them have really large families and some of them are actually running businesses from their homes...The general population, I would say, 99 percent of people is going to be OK with this every other week (decision)," Smyth said.

For those that do fill up their blue bins every week, the department suggests to coordinate with a neighbor and ask to put some recyclables in their bins. The department also recommends visiting the nearest drop-off site.

According to the department, data they have collected revealed less than 50 percent of El Pasoans do not put their bin out every week.

Homeowners' solid waste bill will not go down, Smyth added. The city is expected to save $2.6 million once they start picking up the blue bins every other week, but those savings will be going towards building another drop-off site, or citizen collection center as the city calls them, in far east El Paso.

"We're going to use those savings for a variety of programs here at the city," Smyth said.

The department is going to continue to collect data once the transition starts to decide how or if any changes will be made.

Information regarding when pick up every other week begins will be sent to residents in the next two weeks.

Brianna Chavez

Brianna Chavez is an ABC-7 reporter/producer.



  1. Bottom line, I dont want any part of the blue bin. No recycling for me. Free dumping at some local sites. All will go to landfill. THEY PROFIT FROM RECYCLING AND WANT US TO DO THE LEG WORK? GOOD BYE. COME TAKE YOUR BLUE BIN. I AM OUT.

  2. Half the service for all of the cost. Typical of a Democrat run city.
    Tired of being ripped off yet? No? Then keep that RINO Margo and his clown court in office.

  3. I am appalled at Ellen Smith’s comments. I live in a single household and actually discard more recyclable trash than regular trash. We should be doing more recycling instead of discouraging it by cutting down collections! I believe the issue here is lack of public awareness and ONGOING education! We already pay a lot of money for these services not being fully utilized.

  4. We fill our blue bin every week between 3 of us. What a stupid decision on their part. Now recyclables will end up in the trash. Way to go elected officials!

  5. It’s unfortunate that Ms.Smyth is “curious” that people can fill their bin with recycling. When the director of EP environmental services isn’t excited or encouraged by this, is it any wonder that El Pasoens can’t get on board with the program. I’m born and raised here, I get it, El Paso is sometimes slow to embrace change but this just sounds like they’re giving up. I’ve lived in other cities that started new recycling programs and those cities had massive campaigns to encourage citizens to recycle to the point of annoyance but it worked. By the way my small family of four, two adults and two babies, routinely filled our bin and always had more to spare.

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