Municipal Recycling

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March 24, 2006

WASHINGTON SEES GROWTH IN RECYCLING RATE

The state of Washington’s recycling rate rose to 42 percent in 2004, a 4 percent increase from 2003, according to figures compiled by the state’s Department of Ecology (DOE).

Gains were made in metals, paper and yard waste recycling, which DOE officials credit to good recycling practices, better resale markets and more yard waste collection programs.

The state’s recycling rate tracks glass, paper, plastic and metals as well as some recycling of tires and used oil. Data on land-clearing debris, concrete, carpet and pads, furniture, C&D debris, mattresses, batteries, paint and clothing are not used in compiling the official figure. However, when these items are included, the diversion rate becomes 48 percent, a 1 percent increase from 2003, according to the DOE.

Cullen Stephenson, manager of the DOE solid waste program, says that while the recycling rate is "evidence of solid waste management," he adds that waste generation in Washington continues to climb. Washington residents produced 7.5 pounds of waste per person per day in 2004 compared to 7 pounds in 2003.

"Two-thirds of the waste going to landfills could be recycled or diverted," Stephenson says.

A 1989 Washington state law established a statewide recycling goal of 50 percent. The 42 percent rate achieved in 2004 marks the highest rate the state has achieved since the law was enacted.

CHICAGO PILOT SUCCESSFUL, BUT ADDS OPERATING COSTS

According to local press reports, a curbside recycling program in one Chicago neighborhood resulted in an 80 percent participation rate. But the program would cost an additional $35 million in operating expenses if the entire city converted to the new method, which could make it cost prohibitive.

That price tag did not stop 26 of the 50 Chicago City Council members from signing on as co-sponsors of a measure that Alderman Joe Moore proposed in mid-January that seeks to expand the program throughout the city, according to a report in the Chicago Tribune.

Residents participating in the southwest side neighborhood pilot program have been placing their recyclables in 96-gallon containers since the spring of 2005. These containers are collected once a month and delivered to Resource Management, a recycling facility in Chicago Ridge.

The 80 percent participation rate for the southwest side neighborhood pilot surpasses the 13 percent participation rate for Chicago’s blue bag program. With the blue bag program, Chicago residents place blue bags filled with their recyclables in with their regular trash pickup.

Mayor Richard Daley’s administration says the city cannot afford to expand the pilot recycling program, which costs more because trucks must make a second run to collect recyclables, and Moore says it is unlikely council will fight Daley on the issue.

The article did not mention how much additional commodity revenue an 80 percent participation rate would yield for the city. According to the Tribune, Moore’s proposal notes that Chicago now recycles only 8 percent of its municipal solid waste.

KENTUCKY RECYCLING BILL MOVES TO HOUSE

In January, the Kentucky Senate Committee on Agriculture and Natural Resources unanimously passed a bill that would offer recycling grants to counties in the state.

Senate Bill 50, sponsored by state Sen. Dan Kelly, was first introduced into the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Natural Resources. The bill then went to the state senate for a full vote and was passed unanimously.

The bill seeks to increase recycling levels in the state by awarding recycling grants to various counties under the $5-million Kentucky Pride Fund for landfill cleanup. According to a report in the Cincinnati Community Press, the bill would allow some of the state’s environmental landfill remediation fee revenue to be used for household hazardous waste and recycling grants.

The state’s House of Representatives now must consider the bill.

According to the Community Press, Kentucky is one of 13 states that does not have a recycling grant program.

HALF OF VIRGINIA FAILS TO MEET RECYCLING GOALS

According to information released by the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), more than half of the cities and counties in the state failed to meet the mandatory recycling rate of 25 percent during 2004, the Virginia Pilot (Norfolk, Va.) reports.

According to the report, rural areas lag farthest behind, while Richmond achieved the highest recycling rate at 44.6 percent. Northhampton County came in with the state’s lowest recycling rate at 1.6 percent.

A bill has been proposed that would lower the mandatory rate to 15 percent and change the 25 percent rate to a voluntary "target rate," according to the paper. But some recycling advocates have opposed the bill, describing it as regressive.

Another proposed bill would allow less populated counties and those with high unemployment rates to maintain a 15 percent recycling minimum, while other communities would have to reach the 25 percent rate.

N.J. COUNTY JOINS CURBSIDE VALUE PARTNERSHIP

The Aluminum Can Council and Burlington County, N.J., officials hope to increase curbside recycling participation among county residents as the Aluminum Can Council’s (ACC) Curbside Value Partnership (CVP) begins working with the county on a campaign to educate residents on the benefits of curbside recycling.

The ACC says it selected Burlington County for the partnership because its recycling program is already ranked among the best in the state. Additionally, the Burlington County also has the ability to collect data to measure the program’s success, which the ACC describes as critical to ensuring a successful partnership.

"We have three central goals for this partnership," says Steve Thompson, director of Recycling Initiatives for the ACC. "We want to increase participation in curbside recycling throughout the county, we want to see more bins on the street and we want to see residents more diligently recycling the valuable portion of what goes in that bin, including aluminum cans and newspaper."

Burlington County Recycling Coordinator Ann Moore says, "We already have a strong curbside recycling program in Burlington County. However, research shows there are still a large number of households that are not recycling for many reasons such as not having access to recycling buckets."

Moore adds that the partnership with the ACC will identify the barriers that currently hinder participation in Burlington County’s curbside recycling program and will provide access to resources that could help to increase participation rates.

The partnership will involve countywide communications to residents with an added focus on five communities where bin usage and promotion will be heightened. Additionally, the ACC will co-fund the purchase of new recycling containers and will provide public relations, marketing and logistics resources to the county to help disseminate recycling messages and to measure their effectiveness.

The CVP also has announced a strategic partnership with the Association of New Jersey Recyclers (ANJR). Following the successful implementation of the Burlington County campaign, the ACC and ANJR will work together to roll-out a statewide recycling education program.

The Curbside Value Partnership was created by the Aluminum Can Council to increase residential participation in local curbside recycling programs and make curbside programs more profitable and sustainable.

Current CVP partner communities include Kansas City, Mo.; Brevard County, Florida; Indian River, Fla.; Denver; Orlando; and Dallas. More information on the program is available online at www.RecycleCurbside.org.