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3 strikes & you lose your blue recycling cart
Residents who repeatedly contaminate recyclables are having their blue carts taken away by the city.

A small but growing number of Manteca residential solid waste customers are finding out the hard way that tossing garbage into city recycling or yard waste carts can bring them a lot of grief.
The city has been pulling blue carts from those who accumulate three strikes — written warnings — to stop contaminating recyclables with garbage.
City of Manteca Solid Waste Manager Rexie LeStrange said that green carts are also being pulled on the third warning over garbage contaminating green yard waste.
The removal of the carts means residents are forced to switch to larger brown garbage carts to not just get rid of the garbage they were placing illegally into the blue carts that didn’t fit into the brown cart but also to get rid of their recyclables.
LeStrange during a presentation to the Manteca Rotarians during their Thursday meeting at Ernie’s Rendezvous Room said the reason the city is being strict has everything to do with keeping costs down.
The firm that Manteca sends recyclables to in San Jose will — if a truckload of recyclables is contaminated with garbage rendering the load un-recyclable — landfill the load.  The truckload of contaminated recyclables is not landfilled in San Joaquin County where it would cost $50 per ton but in the Bay Area where it costs $80 to $100 a ton.
Regardless, being forced to landfill recyclables wasn’t factored into the new solid waste rates that went into effect in March.
LeStrange said that solid waste truck drivers keep an eye on recycling carts when they are being tipped. When they see garbage dropping into the truck they issue warnings to the household customer.
LeStrange also shared why the city often doesn’t pick up carts as they are either overfilled or not enough clearance for hydraulic arms to safely grasp them at curbside.
When cart lids aren’t sitting flat and the cart is picked up and tipped not only will the items sticking out fall onto the ground but so will some of the cart’s contents.
“People will ask why the drivers don’t just get out and pick up what flies out or (remove ) excessive items (not allowing the lid to sit flat),” LeStrange said. “Drivers can’t do that because they have 1,150 stops on their routes each day to collect.”
LeStrange said carts are not picked up if they are: overloaded. have a vehicle blocking them. Too close to vehicles. carts are placed too close together.
placed under street lights, basketball hoops or street signs.
LeStrange said carts must be at least two feet from parked vehicles as well as at least two feet between carts. The space is needed to operate the hydraulic arms.
Newspapers, cardboard boxes, tin food cans, glass bottles or jars, plastic milk containers, soda cans, plastic bottles, paper, and similar items can go in the blue carts.
What can’t go into the blue cart and needs to go in the brown cart are:
tyrofoam as there is no facility in Northern California to recycle it.
garden hoses.
plastic bags as they are too thin and light which means they jam the automated equipment used to sort recyclables.
older-style milk cartons that are not plastic.
plastic lawn furniture or toys as they are made of too many different plastics.
plastic hangers.
cat or dog food bags as well as juice containers as both have two layers of material that are problematic to separate — a paper outside and shinier material on the inside.
pizza boxes that are greasy unless you want to go to the trouble of tearing off the top — providing it is not greasy — and putting it in with recyclables.
Only organic waste from your yard can go in the green cart.
You cannot place any of the following in a green cart and they can only go in the brown cart are:
treated wood.
nursery pots
plants in containers or buckets.
cat litter.
dog or cat feces.
Hazardous materials such as  motor oil, paint, anti-freeze, insecticides, light bulbs, and such can be taken to the San Joaquin County Household Hazardous Waste Facility at 7850 South R.A. Bridgeford Street behind the Stockton Metro Airport Thursday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at no charge to county residents. You can call 209.468.3066 for details.
Household batteries can be taken to the solid waste office on Wetmore Street to a box inside the office. There is a collection box outside the office for electronic waste such as televisions, computer equipment, cell phones, and such. Both services are free and both are available Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m.

To contact Dennis Wyatt, email