Longview’s recycling habits have come a long way in the four years since the city removed its 300-gallon communal recycling tubs from most of the alleys.
The average amount of trash, or non-recyclables, thrown in recycling bins citywide has dropped 45 percent since the city replaced about 770 communal alleyway receptacles with individual household carts in August 2009. As of March, the citywide average contamination rate is 24 percent.
When the city conducted its first citywide recycling “audit” in 2008, more than half the material — 52 percent — in the bins was trash. In the Highlands, the recycling bin contamination rate was a whopping 76 percent.
Waste Control, the city’s recycling and trash collector, conducts random inspections of recycling carts almost daily. Customers who fail to change their habits after three warnings have their carts removed, and their garbage rates are hiked by $10 a month.
The city pays Waste Control to collect the community’s recycling and separate it from the garbage customers throw in the bins. As a result of Longview residents’ improved recycling habits, the city finally has begun making revenue selling its recyclable material, earning $58,000 in 2011. This meant the city didn’t have to increase recycling rates for 2012, according to Gregory Hannon, the city’s solid waste/recycling manager.
Due to the volatility of the recycling market, the city received only $7,014 in recycling revenue in 2012 even though the amount of recycling collected was similar to 2011, Hannon said.
By The Numbers
In February 2010, the city of Longview began monitoring households’ recycling practices to reduce the amount of trash thrown into recycling bins. Here’s a look at changes and enforcement steps since then.
February 2010 — March 2013
34% — 24% Amount of trash/contamination in recycling bins
27% — 30% Reduction in amount of trash
172 — 217 Number of households that have lost recycling bins due to repeat violations
2,294 — 2,413 Number of education notices issued for improper recycling
2,746 — 3,016 Number of citations issued for improper recycling
31% — 29% Recycling contamination rate of Monday collection route, including the Highlands neighborhood (down from 76% in March 2008)
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