Friday, February 16, 2007

Curbside Recycling Going Citywide in Wilmington

Last night City Council voted to make curbside recycling a reality throughout Wilmington. The city started a pilot recycling program last summer that includes my neighborhood; I've been putting all my recyclable materials (glass, plastic, paper) in one bin once a week. As the News Journal reports, Council decided to move ahead even though the pilot program hasn’t reached the target rate of 50 percent diversion:
But officials are confident they can get the recycling rate to 50 percent, which was the goal of the pilot program. Getting to 50 percent would reduce the added cost to less than $50,000, city Communications and Policy Development Director John Rago said.
The city will actually pay RecycleBank $588,000 a year for its services if 35 percent or more of the city's annual residential trash stream is recycled. But that would save the city $463,000 in disposal costs to the Delaware Solid Waste Authority, which operates Cherry Island landfill, where the city's trash goes. The city's total extra cost would be $125,000.
RecycleBank would be paid less if the collection rate goes below 35 percent.
As I wrote in December, it still makes sense to move ahead:
Few private sector strategic initiatives are expected to break even in six months; the city's program should not be deemed a failure after such a short trial period. Perhaps Wilmington's decision to move ahead with a Philadelphia company will nudge the Delaware Solid Waste Authority (DSWA) towards making the necessary investment in recycling.
In the meanwhile, I hope Wayne Smith and his allies don’t take advantage of the diversion of Wilmington’s household waste as another excuse to adopt HB 1, which would force the DSWA to accept yard waste at Cherry Island. It would be a shame if Wilmington’s decision to move forward on recycling is used to justify moving backwards by mandating the landfilling of the largest single category of recyclable waste.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

something that has always mystified me with the city pick up is that they do it 2x's a week. couldn't the city also save a ton of money in salary if they didn't have trash pick up 2x's a week? Seems like such a waste to me. At least the did pick up 2x's a week 3 years ago. I assume they still do it now....

11:56 AM, February 19, 2007  
Blogger Tom Noyes said...

The city still picks up trash twice a week. With curbside recycling, one of the weekly collections will be for recyclables, the other for regular trash.

As for saving the city money, you might be surprised to learn that a relatively small set of workers picks up Wilmington's trash.

The city has more than 1,100 permanent employees. These positions include 16 sanitation drivers and 25 sanitation "chuckers" (yes that's what they're called). These 41 permanent workers are supplemented by a handful of temps and other laborers as needed.

As you might imagine, these 41 workers are at or near the bottom of the city wage scale. The salary savings from cutting back to once a week trash pickup wouldn't make much of a dent in the city's budget, which is actually in pretty good shape these days.

1:14 PM, February 19, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Since you recycled with this program, can you tell us how much more difficult it is than just throwing it away, and if sometimes, while moving three or four containers out to the curb, if you wish, for a second, that you only had to move one?

If you can sell me on this point, you can sell anyone.............

5:18 AM, February 20, 2007  
Blogger Tom Noyes said...

It's really easy. On Monday nights I move the recycling bin to the curb. On Thursday nights I move the trash bins to the curb. I don't need to juggle several different bins and I don't need to seperate paper, glass, plastics etc.

It is much simpler than the DSWA's curbside program which requires using seperate bags for different categories. The only time I need to move several bins to the curb is when I have several bins of trash.

7:56 AM, February 20, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I didn't know that. That is surprising. Thanks

9:05 AM, February 21, 2007  

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