What is the “Feet on the Street” program?
The “Feet on the Street” (FOTS) program is an anti-contamination program developed by The Recycling Partnership (TRP) that is focused on optimizing the recycling system in your community. The program encompasses a combination of recycling education and recycling inspection at the curb to help drive positive behavioral change that will improve the recycling for the good of the community.
Why are we doing this program?
For most of the early twenty-first century, China was the main destination for the world's scrap material. This resulted from a combination of factors, including the growing need for metal, paper and plastics in China's expanding industry, lax environmental regulations, cheap labor, and inexpensive shipping using containers that would otherwise be returned to China empty.
In 2017, that situation abruptly changed when China announced its ‘’National Sword’’ program, which banned many scrap imports and imposed strict quality standards of less than 1% contamination. As a result, the US recycling industry is responding by investing in better sorting equipment and focusing on cleaning up recycling streams, not necessarily to meet the National Sword standards, but to meet the requirements needed for increased use domestically.
Locally, we have seen an increase in the amount of contaminated recycling and we need to do our part in improving the quality of material.
Is Contamination really a big deal?
Contamination increases the cost to the recycling system in labor, time and increased safety hazards. Communities that focus on anti-contamination programs for their community can see benefits to their recycling program such as:
- Increased the capture of quality recyclables
- Increase the value of recyclables materials
- Increased the savings related to improved processing and decrease in labor, downtime and fees
How will the FOTS program work?
Existing recyclable materials will be separated, sorted, and inspected to see what kind of contaminated material residents are placing in their carts.
Residents will receive a Recycling Information Card via direct mail. A couple weeks later quality Inspectors will then check recycling carts city-wide and tag carts found with the presence of the identified top issue contaminants with an “Oops” tag.
Residents receiving an “Oops” tag may have their cart rejected for service depending on the amount and type of contamination. The resident is asked to remove the contaminant before the next service day.
My cart was not serviced, will they come back to empty the cart?
No. If you find the cart turned around with an “oops” tag on the cart, that means there was too much contaminated material and we could not service the cart. The tag will tell you what was wrong; if you make this correction, we will service the cart on the next regularly scheduled collection day.
Why are people looking in my cart?
Quality inspectors will walk the routes starting early in the morning. They will look through the cart for contaminants and leave a tag if necessary.
Is this safe with the current pandemic?
Tagging staff will wear all appropriate personal protective equipment while walking the routes to minimize any risk related to COVID-19.
Will this really make a difference?
Yes. Other communities that have done a similar program have reported a reduction in the amount of contamination; anywhere from 25% to 45%.
What items will prevent my cart from being serviced?
If trash, yard waste, food waste, construction material, or bagged recyclable are found, we will not service the cart.
Items that may be recyclable that we do not take:
- Plastic bags
- Shredded paper
These are examples of materials that should not be in the cart. We will still service the cart the 1st time, but will leave a tag educating residents so they understand the error.