Local News

Raleigh exploring ways to increase residents' recycling

Posted May 13, 2014

— The more trash Raleigh residents toss out, the more they pay – that's one idea city leaders are learning about as part of an effort to reduce the amount of solid waste going into landfills and increasing recycling efforts.

Fred Battle, director of Raleigh Solid Waste Services, presented the idea – one among many – during a meeting Tuesday of the City Council's Budget and Economic Development Committee.

Since 2000, Battle said, the city's annual solid waste collection has increased by 29 percent, or 38,000 tons.

A "pay-as-you-throw" program – where residents would be charged based on how much trash they put out for collection – could result in up to a 30 percent decrease in solid waste and up to a 60 percent increase in materials being recycled.

The concept is gaining in popularity nationwide, from about 100 programs in the late 1980s to more than 7,000, as of 2007.

How it works varies, Battle said. In some cities, residents buy or rent selected-sized containers based on how much trash they use. In other cities, residents pay per bag of trash. Other cities charge additional fees or taxes if customers exceed a permitted amount of waste.

A "pay-as-you-throw" program would cost up to $3.2 million to implement and up to $600,000 annually. Annual revenue could range from $30,000 to $350,000.

Environmental groups, such as the North Carolina League of Conservation Voters, support ideas to increase recycling in Raleigh, and so do city leaders.

"I would love to see us move to a utility structure where people would get charged based on the amount of trash they actually generate and make it more of an equitable system," said Councilman Bonner Gaylord, who represents much of northwest Raleigh.

Councilman Eugene Weeks, who represents southeast Raleigh, said such a program could be problematic.

"It would definitely be a hardship on the people I know," he said. "It's not only in my district but people in other districts."

Although there is no timeframe to implement a program, Raleigh residents, like Barbara Fraser, already have an opinion.

Fraser composts, recycles and tries to limit her solid waste, but she says she does not like the idea.

"I don't think it would help," said Fraser, who composts and recycles. "I think people are going to do what they want to do."

City leaders also heard several other options.

Battle presented an idea that uses radio frequency identification to reward customers who recycle with reduced fees and prizes.

Although it could help increase recycling, he said, implementing the program would cost up to $600,000 while estimated annual revenue would be less than $65,000.


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  • Nancy Martin May 14, 2014
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    "A "pay-as-you-throw" program would cost up to $3.2 million to implement and up to $600,000 annually. Annual revenue could range from $30,000 to $350,000."

    Ok then, waste money - typical government logic. Run a program that costs more than it will generate.

  • pooodaddy May 14, 2014

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    What I mean is that I HAVE to pay for trash pick up and recycling. I can't call the City and say please stop charging me and picking up my trash/recycling.

  • smcallah May 14, 2014

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    The driver of the truck that is collecting the recycling can easily see what he is dumping into the truck. If he sees garbage bags falling out of the recycling bin (since you're not supposed to bag anything), you can bet he is going to write it up and you should expect a fine.

  • smcallah May 14, 2014

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    No, it's because the grease from the pizza ruins the entire batch of recycled cardboard if it gets processed in there. The grease cannot be cleaned out. No one wants to get a new cardboard box with a little grease stains in it everywhere.

  • smcallah May 14, 2014

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    They tell you why in their literature. Because the grease from pizza will ruin an entire batch of recycled cardboard. It will be unusable as cardboard in the future because the grease does not come out in the process of making it into new cardboard.

    And why throw it in your kitchen wastecan? Take it straight outside when you're done with it, it fits fine in the 96 gallon can the city provides.

  • ditch May 14, 2014

    The problem with this plan is the amount of times that they come by for recycling. I currently recycle 2 to 3 times more than I throw away. Recycle truck comes every other week, trash comes once a week. My trash can is never full but I always have bags and boxes sitting beside my recycling can.

  • smcallah May 14, 2014

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    What do you mean you don't have a choice to recycle or not? You can still choose not to put things in the recycling bin. You are not forced to just because it's there.

    The only thing you are required to recycle is plastic bottles since there is a state law for that. And that would apply if you were in the city or county.

  • smcallah May 14, 2014

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    Huh? The recycling bins in Raleigh are as big as the trash bins now. Flattening boxes takes no time. And there is a picture on top of the bin as to exactly what you can put in there and wording about certain things you cannot. And when you received the new blue bin, they included literature on what could be recycled.

    If you have any confusion about what needs to be recycled or can't take the few seconds to minutes to flatten cardboard, you blame yourself not the city that has provided everything. They have a website too, and a phone number that you can call to ask a question. And if you were putting cardboard in your regular trash bin, you wouldn't flatten it there either? That's a tremendous waste of space in the bin.

  • Obamacare returns again May 14, 2014

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    This is disgraceful in this day and age. Your apartment complex should be reported and fined heavily for this.

  • smcallah May 14, 2014

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    Because there is no system to collect that money. States that do have bottle deposits put an extra tax on drink sales and give the money back if you bring the bottles in for recycling.

    We also don't have them anymore because the drink makers don't reuse the bottles anymore. They used to inspect and clean all the bottles that you took to the store and reuse them to bottle more drinks. They can't do that with the plastic bottles and the cheap glass bottles they use now.

    There was a proposal to put a "deposit tax" on soft drinks in NC a few years ago, and you'd get the money back if you recycled the bottles. But that went nowhere.