Booster

City, Carton Council work on new recycling initiative

By ThisWeek Community News  • 

Columbus city officials are billing the first year of a citywide curbside recycling effort a success and hope to draw more people -- and recyclables -- into the program.

From June 2012 to May 2013, Columbus residents recycled more than 22,000 tons of materials, saving landfill space and $1.24 million in landfill disposal fees.

The goal is to collect 50,000 tons of recyclables by the end of the year, so the city will target specific neighborhoods to increase participation and tonnage, said Erin Miller, the city's environmental steward.

Columbus has partnered with the Carton Council to help kick off a public awareness campaign to encourage residents to recycle their food and beverage cartons.

There's a new push to get residents to recycle juice, milk and soup cartons and other paper-based containers that have a thin, shiny plastic coating, often referred to as aseptic or peaked boxes.

The Carton Council is a nonprofit collaborative of carton manufacturers in the United States aiming to increase recycling of those containers.

Paul Hernandez, a consultant with the council, said the outreach will involve a combination of paid advertising, public-service announcements and automated calls.

"Consistently, we've found that the level of recycling cartons increases after we do one of these campaigns," he said. "We've found people respond to it and the numbers go up."

Cartons have been accepted as part of the recycling program since 2011, when Rumpke and the council spent $500,000 on sorting equipment at Rumpke's North Side facility.

However, many residents might not be aware the cartons are made of recyclable material, said Jonathan Kissell, spokesman for Rumpke, a residential and commercial waste and recycling firm.

The city launched RecyColumbus last June and implemented the fifth and final phase May 3, 2013.

The rollout was virtually seamless, but hit a snag last year in German Village, where residents complained they had no room for the blue 60-gallon containers.

Although they clamored for smaller bins, the city would not make an exception. The controversy has seemed to have died down and residents have accepted the carts, said Bill Case, president of the German Village Society Board of Trustees.

"The revised recycling program introduced by the city in 2012 has generally been well-received by German Village residents," Case said.

"Most residents use the city's recycling service and feel good about its positive environmental impact," he said.

"Once residents became accustomed to how the service works, complaints we are aware of have been few."

The city conducted a survey April 8-12 and found 74 percent of eligible homes had joined the recycling campaign.

City officials had no specific participation in mind, but are pleased with the involvement, which is higher than cities of comparable size, Miller said.

"I think our residents are really excited about the program and are really excited to have recycling at home," she said.

Some have complained that there's not enough room in their carts for all of the household recycling.

Residents can do their part by collapsing boxes and cartons and crushing cans to make more room in their 60-gallon carts.

So far, 287 residents have purchased an extra cart for $40, which includes home delivery.

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