Fire Disrupts Tulsa Recycling; City Temporarily Combining Trash, Recyclables

Monday, April 5th 2021, 5:24 pm
By: Emory Bryan

TULSA, Okla. -

A fire shut down the largest recycling processor in Tulsa, which means many recyclables are going into the trash.

The City of Tulsa is temporarily diverting recyclables to an incinerator because a fire damaged the machine used to sort them. Monday, trucks were running as usual, picking up trash and recycling separately, but delivering both to Covanta, the company that incinerates most of Tulsa's trash.

The fire that caused the interruption was last Thursday night at Tulsa Recycle and Transfer and was blamed on a battery improperly disposed of with recyclables.

Related Story: TFD: Fire At Tulsa Recycling Center Likely Caused By Misplaced Battery

The company did not respond to a call for comment Monday but was involved in meetings with the City of Tulsa over how to handle recyclables with the plant partially closed. Commercial waste services were continuing at TRT.

The recycling systems for Tulsa - and Broken Arrow - depend on the sorting capacity of the machine that is now shut down. Bartlesville has temporarily stopped taking recyclables at drop off sites because they have nowhere to take it.

Late Monday, the City of Tulsa was preparing guidance for residents to handle recycling during the disruption in processing.

You can read the full statement from the City of Tulsa below.

Due to a fire at the Tulsa Recycle Transfer Facility (TRT), the City’s contracted recycling process facility, the City of Tulsa will send residential recycling to Covanta’s Trash to Energy Plant while repairs are being made at the TRT facility. Recycling customers should continue to place recycling in the blue cart and trash in the gray cart.
The City is asking all residents to continue the same recycling and trash process to help avoid trash volume issues and avoid disruption or delay when TRT resumes operations. M.e.t. Depots remain open for Tulsa residents and locations can be found at:
TRT reported the fire started due to recycling contamination from a lithium-ion battery. Since the beginning of the residential recycling program in Tulsa, the City has continued to push the importance of not contaminating the recycling stream. The City’s educational campaign “Focus on the Four” highlights the four items that should be included in the recycling stream including: aluminum and steel cans, paper and cardboard, plastic bottles and jugs, glass jars and bottles. All batteries should be recycled through the M.e.t. and specialized battery operators/stores.
“First, I want to thank the Tulsa Fire Department for their swift action to exterminate the fire quickly. Unfortunately, the damage will still impact many people, organizations, and most municipalities in the Tulsa metro area. This fire shows the importance of not tossing batteries and electronics into curbside recycling and waste carts at home. Throwing away a battery can seem harmless, but they are ticking time bombs in the recycling and waste world,” Robert Pickens with TRT said. “We are grateful to everyone that recycles in northeastern Oklahoma.”
TRT serves many regional partners in northeastern Oklahoma. Covanta’s Trash to Energy Plant is located in Tulsa and is an award-winning Waste-to-Energy Facility that serves the Tulsa area with reliable and sustainable waste management while keeping waste out of landfills. The City will make its best effort to transfer recycling to Covanta to avoid the landfill whenever possible.
For more information about the City’s trash and recycling program and what can and can’t be recycled visit: