Only 20% of multifamily households in Texas have access to recycling, according to The Recycling Partnership’s State of Recycling Report, but San Marcos is looking to change that.

In collaboration with The Recycling Partnership, the city of San Marcos is looking to improve recycling efforts in the multifamily sector through a new pilot valet recycling program, which officially launched March 4.

The Recycling Partnership is a nonprofit organization that partners with communities across the nation to improve recycling efforts.

Diving in deeper

The six-month pilot program is being funded through a $133,000 grant that comes from The Recycling Partnership, which is supported by the American Beverage Association, 3M and Target.

Although recycling has been available at every San Marcos apartment complex since 2011, Amy Thomaides, the city’s community enhancement initiatives manager, said she was seeing challenges with encouraging residents living in multifamily housing to participate in recycling.

“They don’t even know they have recycling on-site,” Thomaides said.

Trashbusters Disposal & Recycling is the contracted company in charge of picking up the bags of recyclables. They also check for “contamination,” which means there are items in the bag of recyclables that should not be there. If this is the case, the valet will leave a tag with an explanation.

Community Program Manager Alita Kane emphasized The Recycling Partnership is focusing on driving the circular economy forward.

“For recycling to work, it’s not just about having access and even having participation. That recycling material that goes into the cart needs to also be packaging that is highly recyclable, and once it gets into the cart it needs to be sorted in a way where we’re able to actually have a viable product at the end of that,” Kane said.

Notable quote

Kane said San Marcos was “trailblazing” with the pilot program.

“We’ve made leaps and strides in the single-family sector, but we know there’s so much work to be done, especially for access in the multifamily sector, and we also know that the multifamily housing sector is growing,” Kane said.

What to expect

The program will end Aug. 30.

City staff and The Recycling Partnership will collect data and put together a report that will analyze whether participation and contamination increased or decreased along with resident feedback. Then they will write a sample request for proposal and go out to bid for a contract to make the program more permanent.