Only a few offenders can shatter a program that helps everyone.
The program, in this case, is free glass recycling. Ripple Glass of Kansas City collects glass food and beverage containers deposited in three bins throughout the community.
Unfortunately, non-conforming items - including televisions and computer monitors - have been dumped in the glass recycling bins.
Jefferson City issued a news release Tuesday under the diplomatic headline: "City offers proper glass recycling tips."
A less polite advisory might read: "Stop dumping junk or risk elimination of the program."
In addition to electronic components, ceramics, aluminum and plastic bottles have been found in the bins.
The glass recycling bins - easily identifiable by their purple color - are located in: the Save-a-Lot parking lot at 1228 E. McCarty St.; the old Allied Waste building parking lot at 722 Dix Rd.; and the front and back parking lot of the Federal Recycling Building at 2730 W. Main St.
Contaminating the recycling stream has a dual impact, according to Lauren Hershey, the city's recycling coordinator.
"If the bins are contaminated with trash," Hershey said, "the contents are thrown away, and the community's efforts to recycle this commodity are lost."
Another potential consequence is an end to the program.
Ripple Glass absorbs 100 percent of the cost to pick up glass from the local bins, Hershey pointed out, adding if the company continues to receive contaminated loads of glass, it could discontinue the program.
That would be unfortunate.
Recycling is a local activity with global impact.
The free, convenient bins for glass are one reason recycling is gaining momentum in Jefferson City.
The entire community should not suffer consequences caused by the abuses of a few violators.