When incorrect items are recycled it is called contamination. Putting the wrong items in your blue cart can disrupt the recycling process and cause safety hazards.
For example, plastic bags, garden hoses and wire hangers get tangled in machinery and halt production. Broken glass is a safety hazard for collection crews and MRF employees. Plastic foam breaks up during processing and ends up as small pieces contaminating paper, aluminum and other recyclables.
After collection, Austin Resource Recovery staff takes recyclables to two local Materials Recovery Facilities (MRFs) for processing. The staff at each MRF does their best to sort everything correctly, however contaminated materials still sometimes find their way through the system, often at the expense of the MRF operator and the City.