The City’s attempt to clean up a problem has had unintended consequences: The DMN reports that colorful commercial recycling bins are disappearing throughout the city, but particularly in our neighborhood.

Last year, the council passed an ordinance requiring that bins in residential neighborhoods be screened and emptied at least once a week. The ordinance passed during the height of recycling fever, so it made sense that the companies with the bins would invest a bit to keep things looking nice. (And if you’ve ever driven by a bank of bins when they’re full, it’s pretty disgusting: Some of our fellow citizens are sloppy about placing recyclables in the bins, and often there will be stacks of garbage – not recyclables – left by the bins, too.)
But a precipitous drop in the market for recyclables has caused AbitibiBowater, the company that owns the bins, to make the economically prudent decision to start pulling them from neighborhoods rather than spending the money to screen them. So not only are there fewer bins around for recyclables, but plenty of neighborhood schools and churches that relied on the recycling program for extra money also are being hurt.

Councilman Angela Hunt is quoted in the News story as recommending the council consider amending the ordinance to keep AbitibiBowater involved in the city’s recycling effort. The whole incident also should serve to move along the city’s residential recycling program, which can alleviate the need for many of the commercial bins, and the obvious place to get the money for that is by reducing the twice-a-week regular trash pickup.

Recycling is something people seem willing to pay for these days, and that’s not usually something you can say about a city service, so the council should probably strike now while the iron is hot, so to speak.

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