Sunday, September 24, 2006

Akron's Trash Collection Sports a New Look

The city of Akron has spent a lot of money on brand new trash collection containers for all its citizens. Everybody gets one green bin and upon request, a blue one for recyclables. Those who sign up for the blue recycling bin get $2 off their trash bill every month. People who have more trash can obtain a second green bin for $50.

The program was announced late spring. Kenmore's containers arrived this past week. You can see my new green bin at left, snuggled into a convenient corner. They are very sturdy and the lid stays connected to the top, so no more problems with lids that come off and roll down the street. The lids also fit neatly on top of the container, so rain cannot enter the bin.

These sturdy bins are now collected by an automated trash truck that picks up the bin by use of mechanical arms that grab onto it and lift and tip it into the truck. This will decrease the amount of injuries to trash collection workers. According to reports in the local paper, no workers will lose their jobs.

Household furniture and appliances will still be collected and can still be placed by the curb, at least three feet away from the bins. All items in the bins must be bagged properly.

There should be an aesthetic improvement to our neighborhoods from this upgrade in service. No longer will we see piles of trash bags spilling out smelly trash onto the curb. Animals searching for food will not be able to get into the trash bins.

I am most excited about the presence of the blue recycle bins and have great hopes that citizens of our city will make greater use of the recycle system. It has always bothered me to see how few set out their blue bags of collected bottles and cans, plus paper products. Let's hope that the $2 rebate on trash collection fees attracts new recyclers. Once you have both bins, you become aware of how much you throw away each week that is re-usable and how much is not.

I have been making a concerted effort to cut down on the amount of trash I produce. I am a faithful composter of vegetable matter from my kitchen as well as my garden weeds and cuttings. I now am aware when I go shopping which products are packaged in materials that can be recycled vs those that can't. I now take my own cloth shopping bags to the Acme, because they continue to issue brown plastic bags -- can't use those for recycling. And I take my own shopping bags to the ABJ Farmer's Market and to the Mustard Seed. I've got enough blue bags saved up to last many years!

{Here you see a tomato ready to be plucked from my garden, thriving in the composted earth I add each spring from the composter.)

What materials will the city of Akron recycle? The lid on the blue bin has a graphic label that shows you what is accepted for recycling.

The label gives you the idea that you can recycle any plastic containers, but the city's web page tells you that only plastics marked #1 or #2 should be recycled. Have you taken a close look at plastic packaging lately? There are many items marked with other numbers. Plastic food containers that I purchase at The Mustard Seed are marked #5. You'd think The Mustard Seed would be providing recyclable containers!

The label states cardboard, corrugated only. Ever since I started recycling, I have flattened any cardboard packaging and put it in my brown paper bag for collection -- everything from cereal boxes to toothpaste boxes, none of which are corrugated cardboard. Nobody has ever sent them back to me or left me a notice saying don't recycle these. I worry that these items get booted out and sent to the landfill. However, it feels very good to know that all junk mail is recyclable -- and that stuff piles up very fast indeed.

On the day of our first "automated" trash pickup, I noticed that all along Manchester Rd, there were a scattering of folks who weren't with the program. Trash bags were piled up and old containers still put out overflowing with a variety of refuse. The Akron Beacon Journal published a report that the process of giving out the carts had uncovered a number of people who were not on the public works billing lists! Some people had been putting out trash for years without paying for the service! But for every household that wasn't in compliance this first week, I saw many more who were using the recyle bins for the first time. And indeed, the aethetic view of the new bins all along the curbs was indeed far more pleasant than the old way of doing trash business. Let's hope it works for our collective advantage in the months and years to come.


I have some white iris that is blooming for the second time this growing season -- an effect of global warming?

Also my figs are now green and I'm not sure when I should harvest them or how to use them once they are plucked from the tree. Any suggestions would be welcome!

Trash Bin Update

I am noticing that a number of residents are keeping their trash bin on the curb. One of the big worries when this was move to automation was annoucned was that the bins would be too unwieldy for people to move and that senior citizens wouldn't be able to wheel them back and forth from home to curb. I loaded mine up with a lot of heavy stuff the first time around and it was still very easy to move. Tilt and roll! So far, I am pleased with the bins and with the way they handle.

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