SAN ANTONIO - UPDATE: City Council has approved the request to double the amount of money a person would have to pay if they improperly dispose of dirty diapers in city recycling bins.
Offenders will now have to pay a $50 fee. Before the fee goes into effect, the city will issue letters to 355,000 customers to alert them about the ordinance change. Reminder stickers will also be placed on recycling bins.
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The city's Solid Waste Management Department is proposing an increase in the fine assessed to people who wrongly toss dirty diapers in their recycling bin.
Offenders are already charged $25, but now officials want to double that amount as people continue to make the mistake, which has cost the city $1.2 million.
The proposal was presented Tuesday morning during the Community Health and Equity Committee meeting.
"If you do choose and make a mistake of placing diapers into your recycle container, it causes a contamination issue that costs the city money," City Councilman Greg Brockhouse said.
An agenda memo for the committee hearing shows diaper processing increased from 53 pounds per hour in August 2016 to 103 pounds per hour in November 2017.
City officials said dirty diapers are a health hazard to the workers who have to remove them by hand.
The department said the rate of contamination was as high as 28 percent last year -- that's more than a quarter of recyclables. The department started an outreach program to address the issue and now it's down to about 18 percent. Officials are now working to get it down to 15 percent.
Officials hope the $50 fee will deter people from tossing dirty diapers in their recycling bin.
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