Global warming is scary, but it’s not the only reason you should recycle.
Discussion about our Earth’s rising temperature has become exponential in recent years (and months), and it certainly heralds a number of reasons why we should be searching for ways to use less resources. Less mining and production means less greenhouse gases in the atmosphere—it can’t be a bad thing. But for those who remain unconvinced on the state of our world’s thermostat, there are other, and some may argue more practical motivations for reprocessing your waste. Recycling keeps trash out of our landfills, which means less toxins like mercury, cyanide, sulfuric acid and lead leaching into our air and groundwater. It saves trees and habitat and helps preserve biodiversity. (When you consider that half of the Earth’s forests have disappeared and up to 95 percent of original forest in the U.S. has been cut down, this might be the No. 1 reason to recycle.) It reduces the amount of toxic chemicals needed to make products, as virgin materials require more chemicals than refined waste. It helps create jobs.
Recycling in Albuquerque is simple. Not only are there recycling drop-off centers all over town, but the city picks up recyclables curbside every week. We want to make it easier for you to turn your trash into something useful, so here’s everything you need to know about recycling in your city. If you still have unanswered questions, visit www.cabq.gov/solidwaste/recycle.html.
Frequently Asked Recycling Questions
Does Albuquerque really recycle, or does everything ultimately end up in the dump?
Despite a newsworthy event earlier this year that caught some recycling trucks dumping loads in the landfill, yes, the city does recycle. The event was unusual and not “the truth” behind Albuquerque’s recycling program.
“The truth” is that the city’s recyclables go to the Intermediate Processing Facility (IPF), the state’s only recycling hub. The IPF doesn’t perform any actually recycling there, but it does sort, compact and bundle materials to be shipped to recycling facilities—except for glass and tires. Glass is too heavy for shipping to be economical, and so instead it’s pulverized into smooth pieces and whatever can’t be sold to landscaping businesses is stored. Tires are used as wind blockades and some of them are also chipped down and used as cover for the landfill.
What material does IPF get the most of?
Paper. Twenty-five tons a day. IPF gets more than 60 tons of all recyclables a day from Albuquerque, Santa Fe and Los Alamos.
How much trash does the city generate each day?
1,500 tons, much of which can be recycled.
Do all our recyclables really get sorted?
Yes. Eight workers (IPF gets workers from St. Martin’s Hospitality Center) a day sort through everything the city picks up. All non-recyclables and contaminated materials are tossed, which adds up to about 15 percent of what IPF gets.
Does Albuquerque have 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, visit the city’s website at cabq.gov/solidwaste/noresrcy.html.
Does New Mexico law require businesses to recycle?
What Can I Recycle?
Here’s a list of materials you can recycle through the city. You can unload all of these materials at the city’s drop-off centers, but glass won’t be picked up curbside because of the potential danger to workers. For a list of places who recycle materials not included in Albuquerque’s recycling program, visit www.recyclenewmexico.com/search.
• Small pieces or containers of tin and steel, and aluminum cans
• All plastic bottles and jugs, any number, with a neck or screw top
• Plastics #1 and #2 in any form
• Corrugated cardboard
• Glass, any color
You cannot recycle:
• Chipboard (cereal boxes)
• Plastics other than #1 and #2 in non-bottle form
The city picks up recyclables curbside every week on your scheduled trash day. Note that the city does not pick up glass curbside, as it’s too dangerous for workers. Additionally, the city doesn’t service bins larger than 19 gallons. Curbside recycling is not yet available for apartments, so residents are encouraged to take their recyclables to drop-off sites. To take advantage of curbside pickup:
• Place your recyclables on the curb, 5 feet away from your trash cart, by 7 a.m.
• Make sure your recyclables are clearly recognizable. One of the best ways to do this is to put them in a clear plastic bag (no dark bags, please). Many grocers sell them, but coupons for free recycling bags are sent with your water bill once a year during the summer. To find locations where you can buy recycling bags, visit www.cabq.gov/solidwaste/recybags.html.
• Ensure that each bundle or bag weighs 50 pounds or less, and avoid overloading plastic bags to prevent tearing.
• If you miss your scheduled pick-up day, call the Missed Pick-up Hotline at 761-8100 and a pick-up will be made within 24 hours.
Remember to prepare your recyclables properly for pick-up. Here’s how to do it.
Plastic, tin, steel and aluminum cans—Use clear, plastic recycling bags, small plastic shopping bags (double bag or tie in a bundle to avoid spilling) or a 19-gallon plastic bin. Containers should be cleaned and rinsed with lids and caps removed. Labels can stay. It’s helpful to sort and separate your plastics and metals, but not necessary.
Newspaper, magazines and miscellaneous paper products—Use strong twine or rope to secure together. You can also place your recyclables in a recycling bag, and newspaper can go in small plastic shopping bags. Clean out and Flatten all of these materials.
Corrugated cardboard—Flatten or fold, and tie with strong twine or rope into bundles weighing 50 pounds or less. Bundles should be no more than 4 x 2 feet.
Drop It Off
The city has 18 drop-off sites where you can take your recyclables if you forgot to (or can’t) leave them at your curb. These are subject to periodic change, so if your favorite spot goes missing, visit www.cabq.gov/solidwaste/dropoff.html.