Evanston’s city manager says he wants to start “waving a red flag” about the need to increase recycling rates among the multi-family apartment buildings and businesses served by the city’s municipal solid waste franchise.

Public Works Director Suzette Robinson says about 40 percent of the refuse collected from single family homes and small apartment buildings ends up being recycled.

But from larger apartment buildings and businesses, only about 8.2 percent was recycled last year.

And only a little over half of the 1,321 accounts in the solid waste franchise program even participate in the recycling program.

The participation rate has increased slowly, from 36 percent when the franchise started in 2009.

City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz says that before the franchise agreement expires in 2017 city staff is likely to propose major changes in how the program operates to increase recyling at the larger buildings.

“The result will be much confusion and anger among people,” Bobkiewicz says, adding that many property owners will say they don’t have room for the recycling containers.

So, Bobkiewicz says, there will need to be “lots of discussion and community meetings over the next 18 months to make people aware of the significant issue we’ll be grappling with.”

Robinson says the city plans to conduct a customer survey this summer and do further research on best practices for increasing the recycling rate.

Then, she says, staff will prepare a comprehensive request for proposals this fall that would include all the city’s waste hauling programs.

Prior to the franchise agreement several different companies had provided commercial waste hauling service in the city.

Robinson says the franchise helped reduce costs for customers and reduced the number of garbage trucks operating in town while giving the city more control over health and safety issues and standardizing the operating hours for refuse pickup.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. Get a clue…
    “adding that many property owners will say they don’t have room for the recycling containers.”

    The total volume of stuff being tossed doesn’t change, just which container it goes into. Replace some of the existing dumpsters with recycling ones. What a lame excuse!

    1. A teeny recycling bin

      Ugh, yes. I used to live in a large apartment on Oak Street. Two large garbage dumpsters, and one teeny-tiny single-family residential recycling bin. I don't even see how they were allowed to do that.

    2. Split container dumpsters

      City should try and get multi family building owners or managers to use split container dumpsters.

      This site shows what I mean: ( realize this company is in California)

      Tenants can be encouraged to recycle with constant reminders, like signs on all entry and exit doors to remind them.

  2. Alien concepts

    A difficult obstacle in larger buildings is the increasing number of residents for whom garbage disposal and recycling are alien concepts. Educational efforts in my building have not had the desired results.

    1. Welcome to 1988

      The amount of recyclable waste that ends up tossed into my workplace garbage blows my mind.  I'm not above plucking a pop can or newspaper (yes!) from the top of the pile and placing it in the recycling bin four feet away.  My educational efforts likewise have not changed things much, but the question is why, in 2014, does anyone need to be reminded?  

      Putting a piece of recyclable waste in the proper receptacle is literally the least a person can possibly do for the environment, and yet, apparently around Evanston that's just asking too much.  It's shameful.

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