Curbside recycling producing good results

Published 9:00 pm Wednesday, November 14, 2012

A newly launched curbside recycling program in Brookhaven has already shown an increase in participation over the city’s prior recycling system.

     “It was a lot more than we expected,” said Doug Atkins, a supervisor with Waste Pro. “Folks are jumping on board with it.”

     After two weeks of once-weekly curbside recycling, Waste Pro has collected 7.4 tons of recyclables from Brookhaven residents.

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     That’s 7.4 tons put to reuse the city would have otherwise paid to dispose of in a landfill alongside household garbage.

     By contrast, the city’s prior recycling system collected 6.1 tons of recyclables in its first month of operation this August. That system utilized two bins located at Brookhaven fires stations where local residents could dump recyclables.

     Though he’s fielded lots of questions about what can be recycled, Atkins said what has been collected thus far has been free of household garbage or other debris.

     “It’s been really clean,” Atkins said. “We haven’t had any mixing problems.”

     On the first day of collection last week, the company did see some glass put into the recycling bins. However, that was only a problem in the first week and seems to have been cleared up in the second week.

     Along with glass, Styrofoam and plastic bags can’t be accepted. Paper, including newspapers and magazines, cardboard, aluminum and tin cans and plastic containers are all accepted for recycling.

     All containers should be washed out and free of food.

     Participation rates in curbside recycling programs typically steadily rise during the first month, Atkins said.

     “Usually after a month, everyone figures it out,” he said.

     In October, Waste Pro issued 96-gallon green garbage cans and smaller blue recycling bins to each city household. The garbage cans are to be used for twice-weekly garbage pickup, while the blue bins should only be used for once-weekly recycling pickup.

     Residents on a Monday/Thursday garbage pickup schedule should put recyclables out on Monday. Residents with garbage pickup on Tuesdays and Thursdays have recycling picked up on Tuesdays.

     Atkins did advise residents that right now, garbage and recycling bins are picked up by two different trucks.

     “People were confused by the separate trucks,” Atkins said. “We are getting phone calls from folks saying the recycling is not picked up.”

     Residents should not be alarmed if a truck dumps their garbage but leaves the recycling, and should wait for a second truck to deal with the blue bins.

     Ward Six Alderman David Phillips, who’s been on the leading edge of bringing recycling to Brookhaven, briefed aldermen last week on curbside recycling and expressed satisfaction with the results thus far.

     Along with other recycling committee members, including Ward Four Alderman Shirley Estes, he’s still working to maximize the program’s success.

     “We’re shifting to education,” Phillips said, describing several initiatives targeting students.

     Phillips told aldermen the bins Brookhaven had been provided with by Waste Management as part of a pilot recycling program have been pulled from their former locations at Central Fire Station and Fire Station No. 2. They’ve been replaced by sway carts provided by the City’s Solid Waste Department, pending further evaluation of whether they’re needed.