As we discussed in our last letter, the IRC has recommended updates to our Recycling Ordinance Guidelines earlier in the year. The four municipalities are set to discuss or vote on the changes at their meetings in late May or early June.
Why the Updates?
The changes being proposed are mostly common sense ones that will:
- Improve recycling
- Encourage better participation
- Clarify a regulation that might be confusing
- Make our outreach efforts more efficient or cost effective
What are we changing?
Only one change in one municipality has raised any questions or concerns. We will discuss that in a bit. The other changes should not raise any concerns with haulers. Many, in fact, will benefit the haulers and encourage higher participation rates. Here are some of the highlights:
- All plastic bottles are being added to our plastic recycling (which was restricted to #1 and #2 bottles to this point). The marketplace has changed in recent years and markets now exist for many if not all of these bottles. This also has the added benefit of stressing that we want bottles - not tubs, cups trays and other difficult to recycle materials.
- Other mixed paper is being added to our magazine and catalog category. This means almost all printed paper will now be recyclable in our curbside program. We have discussed this with both you and our processors and there has been no opposition. It should be beneficial to you. You’ll be picking up more material at each recycling stop and will be reducing how much trash you dump.
- Definitions for recyclable material have been updated because the recycled commodity marketplace has changed.
- Responsibilities have been clarified for apartment building managers, businesses and institutions.
- Recycling and waste service is a package. We have also added a requirement for haulers to package all recycling and waste service together. This means you would have to provide recycling and waste service. Businesses and institutions could not opt out of getting a recycling container since they would be paying for the service anyway under this provision.
These above changes should not be difficult or controversial. We have discussed these with the hauling community, most of them at some length. There does not appear to be any opposition from those that have attended our hauler meetings.
Collection Day Requirements
The last change we have proposed has raised more questions than these above. In light of the City of Altoona’s move to assigned collection days a few years ago, we have discussed doing the same in Logan Township. This should make enforcement and outreach much easier (like it has in the city).
It was not our intention to require this right away. Instead, we had planned to put this in effect gradually. This would allow us to talk with all of you so we could decide what collection days made sense. It would also give you a chance to figure out the best strategy for your individual company.
So if Logan Township decides to change the guidelines, it will simply allow them to establish collection day requirements. We would work out the details over the next six or seven months, with the hope that a change could be in place at New Years. It has always been our intention to include the haulers in the discussions to establish the actual collection day schedule. We do not want to create overwhelmingly difficult collection problems for each of you.
Why are we discussing uniform collection days? Some of you might wonder why we are discussing uniform collection days in the Township. Here’s why...
- We have found that the uniform collection days in the other three municipalities have been extremely helpful to us. As it is now, the recycling could be out on twelve different days over a two week in the Township. By contrast, when we go into one of the other municipalities, we can see nearly every household by walking or driving down the street and alley. We have been able to inspect over 1,000 households in those municipalities.
- Beyond the ease of inspection, everyone being on the same schedule has an added benefit. Research has shown that peer pressure plays a role in participation rates. A Keeping-up-with-the-Jones dynamic plays into this. People are generally embarrassed if their recycling bin is not when the rest of the neighbors have their out. It also serves as a reminder; if you forget about recycling on a given week, seeing several dozen bins on your street or road reminds you that it is, indeed, recycling week.
We will still miss some houses because they get backdoor service or get very early pickup, but our experience has shown that this is a small number by comparison to the number of houses we can check.