GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Residents in the city of Grand Rapids will be receiving flyers in the mail this summer reminding them what can’t be recycled.

It’s a revival of part of the 2020 campaign “Feet on the Street,” which was a cart-tagging recycling initiative. Public Works manager Bob Swain said the program was successful in reducing how much contaminated material goes into recycling carts.

“The inbound contamination rate of material into the recycling facility was about 28%, which is definitely a little bit on the high side,” he said.

After mailing out the information packets to residents across the city and flagging carts with contamination, a second audit showed the contamination rate was down to about 7.5%. Another improvement was that the number of recyclables going to the sorting center went up.

“From a sampling, we did before the audit, around 593 tons of recycling was going in…and afterward it was about 750 tons. So tonnage went up and contamination went down…it worked exactly how we’d hoped it would,” Swain said.

The contamination rate has started to creep back up since the 2020 campaign. It is now at about 12%. As a result, Swain and other city leaders are planning to send out more information flyers to residents this summer reminding them of the common recycling mistakes, like not putting any material into a plastic bag for recycling, and making sure no trash gets into the cart. They’re also looking at doing more focused audits of recycling carts, similar to the original Feet on the Street campaign, but on a smaller scale.

“It’s really important that everybody pays attention to what is supposed to go in the recycling cart so there can be good quality material that can be reused,” he said.