Hollister, Calif., June 29, 2021— San Benito County Integrated Waste Management (SBCIWM) in coordination with Recology San Benito County began an outreach campaign in June 2020 to curb recycling contamination in the community. The next phase of this countywide Recycle Right campaign begins June 1 with the aim of improving the quality of the recyclables customers put in their recycling containers. This phase of the campaign involves spot checks of containers and a three-step tagging system to help correct mistakes and help residents as well as businesses Recycle Right.

Recology’s Waste Zero Manager Shana McCracken explains, “The latest study showed that the contamination in the recyclables coming from our county went up from 25% in 2019 to around 30% in 2020. That is quite high and is headed in the wrong direction. The increased tagging measures provide real-time feedback to our customers as well as to our staff.”

SBCIWM and Recology are both charged with making sure the recyclables from San Benito County are of the highest quality possible. The goal is to prevent the Monterey Regional Waste Management District, which runs the Materials Recovery Facility (MRF), from having to charge more to process our community’s recyclables. Ultimately this benefits everyone by helping to keep rates low.

Container tags identify contaminants in the various carts and urge customers to use the correct containers, while keeping items “empty, clean and dry.” Recology drivers leave a contamination tag when incorrectly sorted items are found—for example, plastic bags or a car battery placed in a recycling cart.

The tagging system will follow the following three steps:

Step 1. Container contaminated for the FIRST time
  • Driver will attach a contamination tag that indicates what the problem was. Container will be picked up as garbage by another driver.
Step 2. Container contaminated for the SECOND time
  • Driver will not pick up the container and will attach a contamination tag indicating it is the second incident. The tag will show what the problem was.
  • Customer must remove contaminated items, then call Recology customer service to pick up the remedied cart or dumpster (as recycling) at no charge. The driver will inspect the contents upon return to the customer’s location. If significant contamination is still found, a Non-scheduled Collection Fee will be assessed.
Step 3. Container contaminated for the THIRD time
  • Container will not be serviced, and a Contamination Fee will be applied to the customer’s account.
  • A contamination tag will be left on the cart, indicating a third incident has occurred and what the problem was.
  • A Contamination Fee will continue to be assessed per incident until contamination is significantly reduced.

The Contamination Fee, per the SBCIWM’s Franchise Agreement with Recology, is set at $21.79 for residents and $92.65 for commercial customers. At any point in this process, customers are encouraged to contact Recology’s Waste Zero Team for information and support. Customers can also visit to review their Recycle Guide or use the WhatBin search tool.

The San Benito County Integrated Waste Management (SBCIWM) Regional Agency includes the cities of Hollister, San Juan Bautista and unincorporated San Benito County. The Regional Agency was formed in 1995 as a Joint Powers Authority to meet state waste reduction mandates cost-effectively. These laws are enforced by California’s Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle).
On November 1, 2018 the Regional Agency adopted new recycling programs to help the Cities of Hollister, San Juan Bautista and unincorporated San Benito County meet state waste diversion mandates. These programs are included in the Franchise Agreement with Recology, which was awarded the agreement through a competitive procurement process.


San Benito County
471 4th St
Hollister, CA 95023

Emergency: 9-1-1
Non-emergencies: 831-636-4168

Celina Stotler
San Benito County - Staff Analyst