Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
The low-down on recycling in Albuquerque
By Christie Chisholm
Some Albuquerqueans like to spread around the notion that our city doesn’t actually recycle. That, sure, we have recycling drop-off sites around town and big trucks come to haul away our paper, aluminum and plastic every week, but that they really just dump all that stuff in the landfill to rot for the next thousand years. Don’t pay any attention to those naysayers. They don’t know what they’re talking about.
Your beer, wine and water bottles don’t go to the landfill to die (unless you toss them); they go to the Intermediate Processing Facility (IPF), the state’s only recycling hub, which sits on the far reaches of the Westside. It’s been around for over a decade, and it’s your recyclables’ next stop on their way to reincarnation.
With an average of only eight workers on a given day, IPF sorts through more than 60 tons of material, which comes from Albuquerque, Santa Fe and Los Alamos. It sounds like a load, but according to the city’s website (cabq.gov/solidwaste/recycle.html), Albuquerque generates a total of 1,500 tons of trash a day that could be recycled.
So get your act together and start recycling already. Here are some friendly clip-out guides to get you started.
Here are some answers to some of our most frequently asked recycling questions.
Does Albuquerque actually sort through everything they pick up? Do we really recycle?
Yes and no. Albuquerque doesn’t have a recycling mill, and therefore doesn’t physically recycle much of anything. It does, however, pick up, sort and sell materials to private businesses who recycle. In short, the contents of your recycling bin do not end up in the landfill.
What material does IPF get the most of?
Paper. Twenty-five tons a day worth, to be exact.
Who are IPF’s workers?
IPF employs homeless workers from St. Martin’s Hospitality Center (1201 Third Street NW). Usually about eight workers are commuted from the shelter and work in the facility daily. (That means only eight people sort through all the recyclables the city picks up.)
Does Albuquerque do commercial recycling?
No. To find a list of operations where businesses can recycle, as well as places where materials like computers and batteries can be recycled, please visit the city’s website at cabq.gov/solidwaste/noresrcy.html.
Does New Mexico have any mandates that require businesses or institutions to recycle?
Does New Mexico have a bottle law?
No. But the New Mexico Recycling Coalition (nm.recycle.org) is currently lobbying the Legislature for one.
How much of what goes to IPF is actually recycled?
About 85 percent. The other 15 percent is tossed out because it is contaminated or nonrecyclable.
Does IPF ship out everything?
No. IPF currently doesn’t ship out glass or tires, as there’s not a sufficient market for them. The city is currently trying to find a market for glass, and in the meantime is pulverizing it and selling some of it to landscaping businesses and stockpiling the rest. Tires are used as wind blockades and are also chipped down and used as cover for the landfill.
Droppin’ It Off
So you don’t have to strain yourself, here’s a list of all the drop-off sites in Albuquerque, compliments of the city’s Keep Albuquerque Beautiful program. Slap this thing on your fridge and never again complain that you don’t know where to go to recycle. Keep in mind that the city’s website is seldom up to date on all recycling sites, as they change every few months. Call Keep Albuquerque Beautiful at 761-8334, the Solid Waste Management Department at 761-8100 or the city’s 3-1-1 Contact Center for updates.
Solid Waste Management Department: 761-8100
4600 Edith NE (SE corner of Edith and Griegos)
Wise Recycling LLC: 345-2404
4300 Ellison NE (west of Jefferson)
Jo-Ann Fabrics & Crafts: 296-0275
2240 Wyoming NE (Menaul east of Wyoming)
Smith’s/Glenwood Hills: 292-5484
4700 Tramway NE (north of Montgomery)
8100 Wyoming NE (NE corner of Paseo del Norte and Wyoming)
Eagle Rock: 857-8318
6301 Eagle Rock NE (north of Alameda and San Pedro)
2100 Carlisle NE (at Indian School)
University of New Mexico: 277-0111
Campus at Redondo (west of Girard)
Assembly of God Church: (No number available)
4701 Wyoming NE (at Gutierrez)
Bear Canyon Senior Center: 291-6211
4645 Pitt NE
Smith’s/Taylor Ranch: 897-3411
8301 Golf Course NW (south of Paseo del Norte)
Rio Grande Presbyterian Church: 831-1143
600 Coors NW (off Daytona, just east of 60th Street)
Taylor Ranch Community Center: 768-6006
4900 Kachina NW
10224 Coors By-pass NW (Ellison at Coors By-pass)
Los Duranes Community Center: 848-1338
2920 Leopoldo NW
Manzano Mesa Multi-Generational Center: 275-8731
501 Elizabeth SE (south of Southern)
John Marshall Multi-Service Center: 848-1345
1500 Walter SE (north of Cesar Chavez)
Zuni at San Mateo
Westgate Community Center: 836-8723
1400 Snow Vista SW
A Brief Pick-Me-Up
These days, you don’t even have to venture beyond your house to recycle. Well, at least not further than your curb. The city offers curbside recycling pickup, scheduled every week on the same day as your trash collection. Here are some curbside pointers. For more details, visit
• Get your recyclables out on the curb, five feet away from your trash bin, by 7 a.m.
• Put everything in clear plastic bags, and limit two individual bag weights to 40 pounds.
• Actually, bags aren’t necessary if you put everything in a bin, but taking weather into consideration, it’s wise to consider bags anyway.
• There’s no need to sort (although it is appreciated). But please remove all lids.
That’s all. Pretty simple. Please note that glass isn’t picked up curbside, and that Styrofoam and chipboard (i.e. cereal boxes) aren’t recycled here.
Down and Dirty
Good news! Eighty-five percent of everything we put in our recycling bins actually gets recycled. The other 15 percent is unusable, either because it’s contaminated (e.g. has oil or paint on it) or because it’s nonrecyclable. To maximize efficiency, here’s a brief list of materials that can be recycled in Albuquerque:
• newspapers, magazines and shopping catalogues
• junk mail and home office paper (but not those plastic envelope windows)
• tin/steel (small pieces/containers), aluminum cans
• all plastic bottles and jugs, any number, with a neck or screw top.
• corrugated cardboard (flattened)
Note: Although the city is now picking up all plastics, they still only have a market for plastics No. 1 and No. 2. Until they find a market for the rest (which they’re working on), other plastics still end up in the landfill. Go to cabq.gov/solidwaste/noresrcy.html to find a list of businesses that recycle other materials.
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