A couple weeks ago I arrived home from work and discovered an unfamiliar scene as I drove down my street. There were yellow & blue bins in every property’s front yard, including my own. There was a packet of information included with the bin explaining that my neighborhood had been selected for a 3 month curbside recycling pilot program; which is being offered by Republic. At the end of the 3 month period, a one time charge of $48 for the next year will be billed if we choose to continue.
To be completely honest, I was excited to see the bin in my front yard. Republic will pick it up every other week on the same day as my garbage pick up. The bin is huge and my only worry is that we will fill it too fast. We already take a disproportionate amount of recycling (compared to garbage) to a neighborhood bin on a weekly basis. The good news is that we do not have to sort it and everything we currently recycle is directly compatible. After a couple cycles of using it, I have noted that our 96 gallon recycling bin is almost always full every other week, while our 30 gallon garbage container is less than halfway full every week.
The arrival of the bin really got me thinking about where the City of Indianapolis is with the rumored city-wide curbside recycling program. In 2009, an RFQ was issued by the city to area recycling vendors to gauge whether or not a “free” curbside service could be offered. According to the City website, there IS a curbside program currently in place where they issue a 96 gallon bin. This seems to be the same program that my neighborhood is a pilot participant in. I turned to Molly Deuberry at the DPW to see where the city’s prior RFQ efforts lead. According to her,
“The City is required by contract with our current solid waste haulers to first negotiate with them prior to soliciting outside bids related to curbside recycling. Those are the negotiations that we have been having. To date, we haven’t been able to reach an acceptable conclusion, but we haven’t given up yet. And let me say, we haven’t had a lot of pressure or push for mandatory recycling.”
“When the Ballard Administration came to office in January 2008, there were roughly 8,000 households participating in curbside recycling. Through outreach, increasing awareness, and partnerships, we have increased that number 2 ½ times to just over 21,000 households. That means an increase from 3% of the population to 8% of the population. The Mayor has been very clear that 8% is not enough—we need to keep looking for ways to increase curbside recycling. Thus the idea of the recycling pilot was born.”
To me, that says that our politicians are trying, but only a small number of us our voicing our support of such a system. Even looking at other cities, recycling is seldom “free” and is included in waste fees. It would be a stretch to see a new wide spread and intensive program be put into service totally free. I think the bigger problem is again, convincing people that it is worth paying for the service. It is a quality of life issue that people must be willing to pay for. Personally, the pilot program put us over the hump. The trouble of taking pieces to area bins is worth paying $6 a month to have it picked up. However, I have to say that we never actually subscribed. The pilot program has helped us along with that.