EL PASO, Texas -- Are you recycling? If so, are you sure you're doing it correctly? The answer might surprise you.
The City of El Paso's Environmental Services Department says there's room for improvement.
Many well-meaning, helpful recyclers are throwing things in their blue bins that aren't accepted in the local program. The three biggest culprits are glass, dirty pizza boxes, and the thick plastic that you find wrapped around things like cases of water.
"The cardboard is recyclable. You can remove the plastic film, because it is not accepted in the city of El Paso's program. When in doubt, throw it out," says Environmental Services Program Coordinator Diana Nunez.
The ESD is challenging the community to help reduce recycling contamination rate by joining the Recycling Challenge.
The contamination rate for the Curbside Recycling Program is 32 percent, which is higher than the national average of 25 percent. This means nearly one out of every three items dropped in a blue recycling bin doesn't belong there.
The city would like residents to help reduce the contamination level to 23 percent by 2023.
Officials said customers who take the challenge will be provided with the educational resources needed to master their knowledge of recyclables accepted in the program; participants will earn exclusive promotional items.
Those with questions can call (915) 212-6000 or email ESDoutreach@elpasotexas.gov.