Solid Waste Authority of Central Ohio officials announced last week that additional curbside recycling containers would be offered to Columbus residents for $22 after removing publicly accessible bins from neighborhood schools.
The move is part of an effort by SWACO officials to fill some of the gap created when the authority July 1 ended a decades-long relationship with Columbus City Schools that provided public access to drop-off recycling containers.
Based on the current availability of containers, the first 100 households to request a container will receive one at half price, $22, according to the July 26 announcement. The offer is good until Oct. 1 and is limited to one recycling container per household.
Callers to 311 must specifically request the SWACO discount containers, which regularly cost $40.76 with tax.
William Logan, coordinator of the Northland Code Task Force, was not impressed.
"They are offering at half price additional recycling containers, which, if I read it correctly, they said the first 100 callers, which I guess is magnanimous of them to discount 100 containers for a city of 1 million people," he said. "I don't want to minimize their $2,200 investment ... but it would appear to be somewhat woefully inadequate for the issue at hand.
"They're still missing the point, I think. Yes, there is a need for additional single-family containers, but it does not address the elephant in the room: that of the public-access container system that can accommodate larger recycling materials such as cardboard boxes."
Libby Wetherholt, chairwoman of the Clintonville Area Commission, had another viewpoint.
"It certainly is a nice gesture, but I know if they do end up having 100, all 100 will be gone fairly quickly," she said.
Hanna Greer-Brown, communications manager for SWACO, said the limit of discounted recycling containers was based on the number of the 90-gallon bins the city had on hand, and that the program will be evaluated.
"That's an interim solution," she said. "We hope to bring additional drop-off locations in the near future. This was just to help during that transition."
Logan complained that ending the SWACO drop-off recycling bins at schools left his neighborhood with no publicly accessible options.
"For some reason, Northland has been denuded of containers, whereas some areas of the city still have them around," he said.
SWACO's website lists only Sharon Woods Metro Park as a drop-off recycling location in Northland. In Clintonville, after 11 containers had to be removed from near Indianola Plaza to make way for redevelopment, only Charity Newsies at 4300 Indianola Ave. remains a drop-off recycling spot.
By contrast, northwest Columbus boasts five public drop-off locations. They are at the Bill McDonald Athletic Complex on Olentangy River Road, Fire Station 27 on Smoky Row Road, Home Depot on Sawmill Road, LeMans Village on Dierker Road and Northcrest Park on Reed Road.
"We've been having ongoing conversations with the city of Columbus on trying to find a good location in that corridor," Kyle O'Keefe, SWACO's innovations and program director, said of the Clintonville area. "I think we're getting very close. Hopefully, in the next week or so we'll be able to solidify a site in that area.
"The Northland area is another area where we are actively in conversations with partners to try to identify other locations in that area," O'Keefe said. "We have some positive conversations going on with the civic association there."
Northland Community Council President Emmanuel V. Remy said he has spoken with O'Keefe and Ty Marsh, SWACO's executive director, about setting up a public recycling site in the parking lot of Kroger on Morse Road.
"We are working hard to secure additional drop-off sites," Marsh wrote in a July 26 letter.
Greer-Brown said SWACO officials also have reached out to the Clintonville Area Chamber of Commerce for assistance in finding potential public recycling locations.