The City of Wichita Falls buries some 160,000 tons of garbage every year in the landfill. That's 32-million pounds. That's a lot of garbage..
The Environmental Protection Agency says that by recycling, each household could cut that amount by 60%, but it takes a lot of effort. Some Wichita Falls residents have raised concerns that we could be doing more. Newschannel 6 literally did some digging to find out why it's not easy being green.
"If the majority of citizens say we will recycle no matter the cost we'll get after it. We haven't had that message yet, "said Davie Lehfeldt.
Wichita Falls Sanitation Superintendent David Lehfeldt is a recycling expert. He's the man behind the City's recycling program, and yes, they do have one.
"If people want to recycle 2/3rds of what you throw away we provide a very convenient opportunity for that," said Lehfeldt.
Lehfeldt is talking about those green organic recycling cans. Residents are able to place food waste, yard clippings, anything that ever lived, in them. It goes to the city's compost site at the land fill and is recycled.
Lehfeldt says, "We've been recycling through compost about 20,000 to 25,000 tons a year. That's not bad."
That's actually a little better than 10% according to Lehfeldt. But, some say it isn't enough.
Heather Vasquez says, "We have a good start but we're way behind where we could be for a city of this size."
Two years ago a group asked the Wichita Falls City Council to up it's recycling effort. Councilors listened and said they would look into it. The bottom line is, that the "bottom line" is what is holding the City back. It's not impossible to do, but it would be costly.
Lehfeldt told us, "I've checked it out. We could do it. It's not a question of can we. Will the people pay for it is the question.
"If I had roll offs that I could leave outside because I don't want smelly trash in my house, I probably be much better at recycling," says Sandra Ross.
The Ross family uses their organic green can when they do yard work.
Ross said, "I like my green roll off for leaf trash and I do, we do use that faithfully."
We went through the household trash can to see how much more they would recycled if it were easy.
"I think you were able quite a few things out of there," said Ross.
We got close to half of what they were ready to throw away, out of the can, from organics to plastics to paper products. But, everything we pulled out would have to go to at least three different places to get to be recycled. Residents say that's a problem.
Ross told us, "I think it's difficult. First of all my kitchen, I don't have the a good design to put the paper in one, the glass in one and the plastic in another, so I just throw it all in the trash. I feel bad about it but that's what I do. It's not easy to recycle in Wichita Falls from my perspective. It's hard to drop it off."
"There is a difficulty there because they have to go to so many different locations to drop it off. I understand that but by the same token we don't have the ability to create a "one stop shop" without creating a lot of issues," Lehfeldt said.
Those "issues" Lehfeldt is talking about would cost the City somewhere between $8 and $14 million. That's the likely start up costs for Wichita Falls to recycle things like plastic and metal.
Right now City officials feel they are doing the most cost effective recycling they can. New patents and systems are being developed daily that could eventually lower those costs and open up new markets to recycling.