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City crews may dive into your recycling bin

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Just how clean is your household recycling regimen?

The city of Albuquerque may soon let you know.

The Solid Waste Department is considering a new “cart tagging” initiative that would include curbside blue bin inspections. Crews would arrive ahead of the collection truck and peek inside the containers in search of material not included in the city’s curbside recycling program. The top six so-called “contaminants” are plastic bags, green waste, food waste, cords, clothing and trash.

The crews would tag carts with problematic contents, alerting the resident to the issue and possibly denying service for that week, though a Solid Waste spokeswoman said the city is still evaluating whether to proceed with the program and how specifically to implement it.

Curbside tagging combined with a door-to-door educational campaign and “reinforcement” advertising “has been successful nationwide in cities like El Paso, New Bedford and Atlanta,” spokeswoman Diane Wikler said in an email. “The program has the potential to transform recycling in Albuquerque for good. In addition, reducing recycling contamination saves valuable time, money and resources.”

Currently, about 29% of what Albuquerque residents attempt to recycle is trash or otherwise nonrecyclable material.

Sarah Pierpont, executive director of the New Mexico Recycling Coalition, spoke in favor of the initiative during a recent City Council meeting, prompting Councilor Trudy Jones to say she would not want the job of “Dumpster diving.”

But Pierpont said the crews – likely interns and marketing staff – have picker tools and are only reviewing some, not all, of the bins’ contents.

“That is a fun idea and very useful,” Jones responded. “I appreciate that. So when I get really tired and stop working completely can I come do that?”

“I think it would be really fun,” Pierpont replied. “You might find some treasures.”

BYE-BYE BYD: As I reported last week, the city of Albuquerque recently settled its lawsuit with BYD Motors, the company contracted to provide electric buses for the still-dormant Albuquerque Rapid Transit line.

The city rejected the 15 buses BYD produced and then sued in December, claiming the vehicles did not go long enough on a charge and also had safety issues.

The parties settled the lawsuit last month, terminating the original contract and agreeing neither had to pay the other any money. It effectively severed all ties between the city and BYD, though a few loose ends remain.

“We still have the electric charger that belongs to BYD, and they still have some tires that belong to us,” Robert Desiderio, the city’s contract attorney said. “There will be an exchange of that in the next few weeks.”

NAME GAME: I wrote a few weeks ago about the Bernalillo County Commission’s lukewarm reaction to a committee’s recommendation to name the new headquarters the “Bernalillo County Government Center.”

The county plans to move about 900 employees into the Downtown building at 415 Silver SW in 2021 and has yet to settle on a name.

Now the county wants the public to weigh in. Citizens can comment on a list of existing suggestions – including Bernalillo County Complex @ Alvarado Square and Bernalillo County Plaza – or pitch another idea.

To offer input, go online to:

Jessica Dyer: