The city’s Waste Management Division, in partnership with Bluegrass PRIDE, is rolling out a new recycling initiative that allows businesses with a cardboard collection container to combine additional recyclable materials such as paper, glass, plastic bottles and jugs, aluminum and steel cans, into that same container.
“We started the program because we have more and more businesses, schools and apartments complexes that have found using multiple Rosie carts was not sufficient for the amount of recycling material they were producing,” says Esther Moberly, Recycling Program Specialist in the city’s Division of Waste Management.
Using a commingled container is also more cost efficient because it takes less time to empty one large container rather than multiple blue Rosie carts. The commingled container is emptied by a front loader truck with a crew of one, the driver.
“It takes a truck with a crew of two or three to service a location using Rosie carts,” Moberly says. “The Rosier carts are emptied with a rear loader truck that can only empty two Rosies at a time. It takes about a minute per cycle. Servicing a business with 20 Rosies takes between 10 and 15 minutes and requires at least two staff members.”
Installing a commingled recycling container solved a problem for five Lexington businesses located in one shopping center earlier this year. The container also allowed one of the owners to meet his dedication to protecting the environment.
Riley Caudill opened his Bike Green Lexington store in March in a strip mall just off Boston Road. At that time, the other four businesses located there, which include a restaurant, investment office, shipping store, and wellness center, used Rosie carts to recycle. The stores had to roll a fleet of Rosies across the parking lot to the median for their weekly collection.
Breaking down a bicycle cardboard box to fit into a Rosie didn’t work for Caudill who asks, “Do you know how big a bicycle box is?”
Caudill is very conscious of being friendly to the environment. “The environment matters to my family and me. We try to be proactive; it’s how we live our lives.”
His bike shop reflects that passion. The interior of Caudill’s store is painted with non-toxic paint and lighted with low-voltage fluorescent bulbs. He paid extra to have a LED sign out front. His display cases for bike accessories came from a McAlpin’s store that closed more than 10 years ago. An array of mountain, hybrid, commuter, and kids’ bikes hang on metal department store clothes racks, which he bought used.
Caudill contacted Bluegrass PRIDE, who manages the Live Green Lexington Partners program for the city of Lexington, about finding a solution to the waste dilemma for his store and the other businesses in the center. The answer was a single recycling container instead of the fleet of Rosies. Caudill asked for and received permission from the property owner to make the change. The property owner, who pays the container rental and trash-disposal fees, “was totally onboard,” Caudill says.
Bluegrass PRIDE’s program manager, Darcy Everett went door-to-door to all the businesses to let them know of the switch and to educate them about what could and could not be placed in the container. The property owner sent the businesses a letter as well.
“The commingled recycling dumpster program is a fantastic opportunity for those organizations in Lexington producing a lot of recyclable material to have an easy, convenient way to begin a successful recycling program,” Everett says.
The city started a six-month pilot program in October 2010 as a test for a commingled recycling initiative. Ten local businesses were involved in the program. “We monitored them for weeks to make sure they were being used correctly,” Moberly says. “We also looked at how full the commingled containers were and if the landfill-bound containers or compactors experienced a reduction in material.”
The program is now being expanded community wide.
Chad Green, who works at Puccini’s restaurant, says they have seen an amazing difference in what his business throws away. “We tell our employees, ‘look, we recycle here,’ so the only thing that goes into the garbage container is food waste.” Green says the garbage container, which used to be filled twice a week, could probably be emptied only once every two weeks now.
“This initiative is an important part of Lexington’s recycling program, one that will move our city towards becoming a zero-waste community,” says Cheryl Taylor, Commissioner of Environmental Quality and Public Works. “Everybody – businesses, taxpayers, the city and especially the environment – wins with this program.”
Moberly says the program has been a success so far. “We don’t have hard numbers yet, but we have seen an increase in recycling from businesses.”
Each location wanting to use a commingled recycling container needs to be approved by the city. There is a one-time $25 permitting fee for the placement of a new container. Businesses converting an existing trash container to a co-mingled one are exempted from the fee but are required to develop an education plan on how to train employees, staff members, or patrons about what should and should not be recycled.
To switch to a co-mingled recycling container:
- Contact Bluegrass PRIDE at 859.266.1572 or at PRIDEinfo@bgPRIDE.org. They will help you begin the process.
- Contact your solid waste hauler (Veolia, Rumpke, M&M, etc.) to request a new container for co-mingled recycling, not just cardboard.
- Any business using a co-mingled recycling container will need to work with Bluegrass PRIDE to come up with an education plan. Bluegrass PRIDE will help your organization design and implement the plan.
For more information on ways your business or home can help protect and improve Lexington’s environment, visit www.livegreenlexington.com.
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PHOTO CAPTIONS: (Top) Rosie carts lined up at one local apartment complex. (Top inserted photo) A recycling container. (Second inserted photo) Riley Caudill of Bike Green Lexington.