As the city of Upper Arlington approaches its one-year anniversary with solid waste contractor Inland Service Corp., changes are in store for the way recycling is collected.

As the city of Upper Arlington approaches its one-year anniversary with solid waste contractor Inland Service Corp., changes are in store for the way recycling is collected.

In December 2007, Upper Arlington City Council voted to disband the city's in-house solid waste division and contract with Inland, with the new service commencing April 7, 2008. An initiative petition to overturn council's decision was struck down by the Ohio Supreme Court in October.

A pending change in how recycling is collected is unrelated to the contract with Inland and has to do with the fact that paper, glass and aluminum are no longer profitable to recycle, according to city officials.

Beginning April 1, residents with medical exemptions will no longer be able to have their recycling picked up at the garage door along with trash. Residents will have three options: leave recycling at the garage door and have it collected as refuse, mix recycling in with other refuse, or take recycling to the curb.

The city has issued letters to residents who'll be affected by the change, said assistant city manager Joe Valentino.

"We have given them options as far as what they would like to do," he said.

Northwest Counseling Services' Older Adults Program is recruiting volunteers to help out with curbside recycling for residents with medical exemptions each week or a few times per month.

"We've tried to set up a safety net so they can recycle if they choose to," Valentino said.

Picking up recycling for residents with medical exemptions has become too costly in part because a second collection truck has to make the rounds of each household, Valentino said -- even when the residents have no recycling to be picked up. The extra fuel costs are increasing the city's carbon footprint, which defeats the purpose of recycling in the first place.

Recycling has also become cumbersome because the number of people with medical exemptions has dramatically increased. When the city's solid waste division was still in existence, workers picked up recycling at the door for people with medical exemptions as a courtesy. About 100 residents had medical exemptions at that time, compared to 330 people now, according to Valentino.

Much of the reason for the increase is that when the city contracted with Inland, the medical-exemption option was advertised and people signed up who may have previously been unaware of that option.

"We figured it would double," Valentino said. "We didn't think it would triple."

Recycling, in general, has become costly for the city, finance director Cathe Armstrong reported at council's Feb. 17 conference session.

"There really hasn't been a market for bottles and cans now for a few years," she said. "We've been paying to get rid of bottles and cans. There had been, up until 2008, a market for newspapers.

"There is no market anymore (for) newspapers. It has nothing to do with our contract with Inland, it has everything to do with the market. The paper is stockpiling in the recycling centers."

Local officials have been in discussions with Rumpke, which processes the city's recycling, to streamline recycling collection when their existing three-year contract expires in December.

Rather than having residents continue to separate paper, bottles and cans, recycling could be collected in a single stream, which would save an estimated $50,000 a year, Armstrong said.

Residents could still separate materials if they chose, and all materials would be processed in a single stream at Rumpke's recycling center, city manager Virginia Barney said.

"We've known that the industry is going toward co-mingling," Barney said.

For more information about the Northwest Counseling Services curbside recycling volunteer program, call Carol Savage, volunteer coordinator, at (614) 457-7876 ext. 363.