I received a postcard. Now what?

Consider what was called out as contamination and, in the future, make sure that item is not included in your recycling cart. Use it to compare your recycling habits to City guidelines. Recycling can be confusing and rules and acceptable materials vary across communities depending on their local processor’s rules. East Lansing’s curbside guidelines may differ from those in a community you’ve lived in before, and some items that are considered “contamination” in curbside collection are recyclable elsewhere, but need to be collected and delivered to a separate facility. For example, Styrofoam™ is a major contaminant in East Lansing curbside carts, but the City does accept it at the East Lansing Department of Public Works recycling drop-off facility, 1800 E. State Road, where it is sent to a separate processing facility than other materials. Plastic bags, Amazon-style bubble mailers and film cannot be recycled in curbside carts or at DPW, but many area retailers have collection bins for this material through nationwide recycling initiatives.

The City’s Curbside Guidelines are a great guide, but only so much information can fit on a one-page flyer. To fill the gaps, the City has launched the Recycle Coach app. Community members can access it in their web browser at www.cityofeastlansing.com/recycle and use the “What Goes Where?” tool to learn about proper disposal and recycling options for 15,000 material keywords. Recycle Coach is also available as a mobile phone application, available for free from the Apple or Google Play app stores. In addition to the material search function, residents can register an address for text/email/push-notification collection reminders, print a collection calendar and more.

If you believe you received a postcard erroneously, let us know! As a pilot project with an associated academic study, these are useful data points. But don’t worry, your recycling collection will not be impacted. The technology is tuned to high levels of confidence, meaning that it’s more likely for an address contributing contamination to not receive a postcard, than it is for a household that is correctly recycling to erroneously receive one. Cases of erroneous or misassigned mailings should be minimal, but a small number of errors can occur in any automated process.

Note: Contamination detection related to this pilot and associated postcard mailings is performed during the collection of the cart using cameras mounted inside of the hopper. It is completely automated and does not alert drivers of the contamination or reject a cart’s contents prior to collection.  However, pre-collection visual inspection of carts contributing dangerous, damaging or grossly contaminated loads have always been tagged with a rejection notice by sanitation crews during their routes to protect their safety and the equipment and to notify residents of the reason it could not be collected. These collection rejection tags are part of longstanding practice and are unrelated to this pilot project.

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1. Why has the City launched this pilot project?
2. When is this pilot project taking place?
3. What happens if contamination is found in my recycling cart?
4. I received a postcard. Now what?