Indianapolis Re-launches Curbside Recycling Program
Topic: Indianapolis Living
WTHR is reporting that the city is planning to re-launch it's recyling curbside program, in hopes of attracting more participants.
Not many Indianapolis residents participate in the city's recycling program. Now, a new program called Indianapolis Recycles explains why the city says they should.... It's just that very few people subscribe to curbside recycling. There are just 1,200 in Center Township and 28,000 countywide. So few participate that instead of breaking even, the city's losing money on the program to the tune of more than $1 million a year.
I've written about recycling before, and obviously our household is enthusiastic about it. I hope the program will stick around especially because it appeals to many city residents because of the convenience, and those are people who might give up recycling altogether if the program went away.
At our house, we don't participate in the curbside program, and take a different approach to recycling all of our post-consumer waste. The main reason we pursue our own program is because the city's curbside program doesn't tackle as many types of types of post-consumer want to recycle. We want to recycle all of our plastics, all of our paper products, and as much metal and glass as we can. The curbside program doesn't pick all of these things up, and the city directs us to take the rest to drop-off points -- there are drop-off programs for all of they types of recycling we want to do. But if we have to run some of our recycling to free drop-off points, it make sense for us to take all of it that way, and at that point, it doesn't make sense to pay for a service we're already doing for free.
For most folks I've talked to, the cost of the curbside program is a barrier, even though that might just be a psychological thing.
"We currently charge $4 to $5.25 a month for curbside recycling. However, our costs are more like $8.57 per week," said Margie Smith-Simmons, Department of Public Works."
In reality, most Marion County residents do pay a fee for the city to pick up their regular trash, but because it's a hidden cost and gets factored into our city/county taxes, residents aren't really aware that they pay for it. If the city did something similar with recycling, they could eliminate that perception of paying for yet another utility-type service. In the article, the city addresses the idea of making recycling "mandatory."
"Some cities actually require residents to recycle. Smith-Simmons say Indianapolis has considered that, but there is no way to enforce it."
That's doesn't seem to be a very adequate answer to me, because it doesn't address how other cities "enforce it." As Brent pointed out in a previous article we posted on recycling, in Bloomington, it's free to recycle, but you pay a fee to get your trashed picked up. So you have incentive to recycle more of your waste, and even to reduce the amount of waste you produce altogether. The "enforcement" comes in by combining the recycling programs with waste removal programs, and making people pay more for the "trash" than the stuff that can get recycled.
Converting the city to a system like that would be an incentive that would get over the cost barrier as well. It would be a considerable infrastructure change to introduce the idea, but the environmental benefits would eventually greatly outweigh any cost.
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