Posted by: recycleannarbor | June 29, 2012

Weighing it Up – Biweekly Collection of Residual Waste for Landfill

An article published today by the New York Times revisits an issue in Portland, Oregon that began in October 2011, when the city launched every other week garbage collection. Portland’s collection service, which was introduced at the end of October 2011, is designed for households to utilize several bins for different waste streams:

  1. A small kitchen pail for collection of food waste.
  2. A green wheeled cart for compostable waste.
  3. A blue wheeled cart for paper, plastic, and metal recyclables.
  4. A smaller, yellow ‘tote’ (square plastic container), for glass bottles and jars.
  5. A wheeled cart for garbage (20-gallon, 35-gallon, 60-gallon or 90-gallon sizes)

A wide range of organic waste can be placed in the green cart. Food scraps collected in the kitchen pail include meat, bones, dairy, grains, and cooked food, as well as more traditional streams such as fruit and vegtable peelings. The pail is emptied directly into the green cart which is serviced every week.

The blue wheeled cart for paper, plastic, and metal and the yellow tote for glass are also serviced weekly. These bins should hold the majority of reading, packaging, and container materials used at the location. Additionally, motor oil is also collected at the curbside.

The trash cart is for any residual material which can not be placed in the organics cart for composting or the recycling cart and tote. Items placed in this cart include paper plates, coffee cups, freezer boxes, and containers and packaging unsuitable for recycling and composting. Kitchen fats and grease must be placed in a sealed container before being placed in the cart, and pet waste, cat litter, diapers, feminine hygiene products, ashes, sawdust, packaging peanuts, and broken glass must be bagged. The trash cart is serviced every two weeks.

In Feburary 2012, a report by The Skanner covered public concerns about every other week trash collection of material such as diapers, pet waste, feminine hygiene products, and medical materials such as incontinance pads. There was rising public concern about odor and unsantitary conditions that may come about in the summer months.

The New York Times report details problems with an increase in gulls at the waste transfer station, which led to a falconer being  hired to patrol the site with three falcons. This has been successful in reducing the number of gulls at the site. Gulls were also reported at the garbage site, indicating that not all food waste was being diverted into the organic waste carts. Far West Fibers, which handles more than 70 percent of the city’s recyclables sorting, told the New York Times that after the initial introduction of the new system they saw a 50 percent increase in the amount of contamination in the recycling loads.

In the UK, every other week trash collection is widely shown to be effective in increasing recycling rates. Nine of the the English local governments with the highest recycling rates have a system in which garbage and recycling are collected on alternate weeks, with separate weekly food waste collections. The reduced capacity available for landfill waste makes residents better utilize their other containers. If recycling is not sorted, and is placed in the garbage container, the container will soon be over full. Effective sorting of  household waste ensures that only minimal non-recyclable waste is left in the trash cart for landfill. If this waste is bagged and tied effectively, odor and insect problems should be limited.

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