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Mark Richardson is a multimedia journalist, editor and writer who has worked in digital, print and broadcast media for three decades. He is a nationally recognized editor and reporter who has covered government, politics and the environment. A journalism graduate from the University of Texas at Austin, he was recently awarded a Foundation for Investigative Journalism grant and has three Associated Press Managing Editors awards for excellence in reporting.
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Commission backs expanding multi-family, commercial recycling
The Solid Waste Advisory Commission, after several months of study and debate, completed work last week on a recommendation to expand the city’s recycling program to include all commercial and multi-family properties over the next few years.
The commission is seeking to expand the reach of the current ordinance to all of the city’s multi-family properties including apartments and duplexes and most businesses, and to expand the amount and type of materials that must be recycled. The current ordinance, adopted in 1998, was written for a different recycling system than the current Single Stream residential program.
“It is my hope that with these changes, no matter where you live or work, you will have the ability to recycle by Oct. 1, 2015,” said SWAC Co-chair Rick Cofer, who chaired the subcommittee that developed the changes recommended for the ordinance. “We will have “We will have thousands of more locations that will have recycling, hundreds of thousands of people (participating) and millions of tons of recycling that will not go into the landfill.”
The proposed changes, including renaming the ordinance from the Commercial/Multi-Family Recycling Ordinance to the Universal Recycling Ordinance, are designed to dovetail with the city’s plans to expand its overall recycling program. The city is currently negotiating contracts for a short-term and a long-term plan to handle recycling materials through a local materials recovery facility, or MRF.
The proposed changes will phase in apartments and businesses over the next five years, adding in smaller operations each succeeding year beginning in 2012. According to city officials, there are 2,436 apartment complexes properties and 2,178 commercial offices that will be added to the program over time.
The proposed ordinance would require:
- Apartment and condominiums properties with 100 units and more to participate beginning Oct. 1, 2012. Properties with 75 to 100 units must start by Oct. 1, 2012; 50 to 74 units begin by Oct. 1, 2013; and those with 26 to 49 units by Oct. 1, 2014. Properties with 25 units or fewer units must join the program when single stream recycling collection services are available;
- Commercial offices with 100,000 square feet and more will be required to begin recycling on Oct. 1, 2012. Businesses with 99,999 to 75,000 sq. ft. must begin Oct. 1, 2013; 50,000 to 74,999 sq. ft. by Oct. 1, 2014; and those with 26,000 to 49,999 sq. ft. must start by Oct. 1, 2015. Businesses with less than 25,999 square feet must join the program when single stream recycling collection services are available;
- Multi-family properties must accept for recycling, at a minimum, materials including paper, plastic container grades 1 (PETE) and 2 (HDPE), corrugated cardboard, aluminum cans, and glass.
- Commercial non-residential businesses must accept items from the same list, minus glass.
Within one year after the city determines it is able to provide processing of single stream recyclables to private service providers, properties required to comply with the ordinance would also be required to increase the type of materials accepted to include plastic grades 3 – 7, paperboard, tin, and steel.
Properties will be required to either self-haul their recycling or use a service provider that is registered with the city. If a property opts to self-haul, the property owner is responsible for reporting their recycling volumes semi-annually. If a property opts to contract with a service provider, that company will be required to report recycled volumes to the city twice a year as well.
SWAC members voted 4-0 to recommend the proposed ordinance changes to City Council. Chair Gerry Acuña recused himself from the vote. The Council will likely consider the recommendations in late September.
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