Tulsa's Residential Recycling Going To Incinerator For Now After Fire At Processing Facility

Apr 5, 2021

A fire sparked by a lithium-ion battery in the recycling stream has taken the Tulsa Recycle Transfer Facility offline.
Credit Tulsa Recycle Transfer Facility

The City of Tulsa is sending residential recycling to the incinerator for the time being because of a fire at the local processing facility last week.

A lithium-ion battery made it into the recycling stream, sparking a fire at the Tulsa Recycle Transfer Facility, referred to as TRT. City Refuse and Recycling Services Manager Maureen Turner said she doesn’t know how long the site will be offline.

"The lithium-ion batteries burn very, very hot. It was a very hot fire. And so, they do have some structural engineers going in there to take a look at the facility. Until they kind of know what kind of assessments are being made and what has been impacted due to the fire, they won’t really have a timeline," Turner said.

Residents should keep putting recyclables in their blue carts for pickup, or they can take them to Metropolitan Environmental Trust depots, which collect recycling as single source.

"Every item goes into a different bin: milk jugs, aluminum cans, glass bottles. And so, since it’s already source separated, they can go straight to a processor, whereas the residential recycling is mixed. That’s what TRT does, is they source separate all of that stuff, bale it and sell it to processors," Turner said.

Batteries should be taken to M.e.t. locations or specialized disposal facilities.

City officials said they’ll make their best effort to get recycling to the Covanta Trash to Energy Plant and keep it out of the landfill. TRT also serves several regional partners in northeastern Oklahoma.

Turner said the City of Tulsa collects 80 to 100 tons of recyclable materials a week.