City Desk

DPW Responds to Questions About Separation Between Recycling and Trash

Trash-3

(Darrow Montgomery)

Awhile ago, we brought you a story about recycling that routinely gets tossed out with the trash. Well, as you can imagine, we thought this was pretty surprising news: that loads of plastics, paper, bottles and cans dutifully dumped into recycling bins around the city were still ending up at the landfill. The culprits? Some private haulers, who apparently f0und it too expensive and too much of a hassle to take the goods to out-of-town recycling centers.

After the story ran last November, we asked Department of Public Works officials if they planned to do anything about the problem. This week DPW got back to us, which is convenient since DPW recycling chief Bill Easley and I are all going to be on the Kojo Nnamdi Show this afternoon talking about the city's recycling travails.

But, for starters, here's DPW's response to our follow up questions:

"In response to your follow-up question, DPW is working to step up its enforcement efforts by expanding the numbers of personnel who will be inspecting for commercial recycling violations. We plan to augment the number of inspectors by training some of the inspectors with our Solid Waste Education and Enforcement Program (SWEEP) on what to look for. I don't have an exact number of how many additional inspectors will be added but we currently have only three recycling inspectors compared to 35-40 SWEEP inspectors.

"We'll start looking at some of the smaller haulers to see what their ratio of trash to recycling vehicles are.

"Finally, DPW is seeking legislation to increase the amount of fines for violators. We feel like this will make businesses more likely to stay in compliance. We expect Council to hold a hearing on this sometime in the Spring."

Later, Nancee Lyons sent another email saying the following:

"I'd like to expand on what I sent earlier with regard to increasing our commercial recycling fines:

"The Department is working on revisions to the recycling regulations that include increased fines for many initial offenses and that establish graduated increased penalties for repeat offenses.  We expect to move forward with the regulations soon."

I'd still like to know if DPW is investigating the five companies we caught trashing recyclables and whether the planned new legislation will go far enough to close loopholes in the law. I've already sent in my follow up to the department's follow up.  Maybe we'll get some answers this afternoon on the radio! (ADVERTISEMENT: tune in at 1:15 p.m.)

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