Good news, Raleigh residents and small businesses — the City of Raleigh's yard waste recycling center is now accepting rigid plastics.
In the wake of Hurricane Irene, the City of Raleigh Waste Services Department will be waiving the special load pickup fee for tree debris for one week.
The city requests that residents prepare vegetative debris in the normal fashion according to yard waste collection guidelines. Tree debris must be no longer than 5 feet long and 18 inches in diameter, and weigh no more than 75 pounds.
The Raleigh City Council has unanimously signed off on the city's plan to install two solar photovoltaic array systems at the new Wilders Grove Solid Waste Services Operations Center.
The second phase of the city's four-phase plan to change all households in Raleigh over to a biweekly recycling collection will take place in September.
If you're a Durham County resident, you shouldn't worry if you haven't received a new solid waste decal for 2011. The county is implementing a new way of issuing the decals, which enable residents who live outside of the city limits to access solid waste and recycling convenience sites.
Do you live in the Raleigh city limits and are wondering when you are going to be switched over to the new biweekly collection service? The City of Raleigh's website will show you the month and year your address will be converted from weekly to biweekly recycling collection.
Raleigh residents may have noticed over the last six weeks that more of the plastic items they put in their green recycling bins are not being picked up by the city’s Solid Waste Services trucks.
The city hasn’t changed the rules about what plastic it accepts (only bottles and soft plastic beverage rings), but it had become more lax about rejecting illegal items during the first six months of this year.
On Jan. 1, Raleigh went from sorting recycling at the curb to having its processor sort it for the city. The processor is the company that collects, sorts and finds a market for Raleigh’s recycling. The processor pays Raleigh based on the tonnage of recycling it delivers.
Linda Leighton, a waste reduction specialist with the city, said when trash collectors stopped sorting at the curb they started just dumping the recycling bins no matter what was in them.
“Our crews became pretty lax,” she said. “They would just dump and go, dump and go.”
Soon the processor started complaining that Raleigh’s deliveries had too much contamination, meaning it included too many unacceptable items. The processor has to hand pick those items out and pay to dispose of them.
If Raleigh’s level of contamination is more than 3 percent, the processor may subtract that amount from the city’s tonnage, thus reducing the amount of money Raleigh gets for its recycling.
In recent weeks the city has been more proactive about not picking up illegal plastics. It’s also begun leaving behind a note reminding residents of what plastic items are allowed.
“From January until now they got used to throwing in anything they felt like throwing in,” Leighton said. “But we’ve got to get them back on the right track.”
Leighton has also recorded a two-minute video that can be viewed here.
Raleigh residents who participate in the city’s backdoor trash collection program may soon have to provide proof that they are unable to bring their refuse to the curb.
Concerned that the free program is being abused by some able-bodied customers, the city’s Solid Waste Services Department will recommend to the City Council on Tuesday that residents be required to fill out an application and provide a doctor’s note in order to participate.
City staff say the changes could save Raleigh $450,000 a year.
Raleigh currently picks up trash from 110,540 households across the city. About 4,100 households participate in Raleigh’s “need assistance” program, which allows disabled and elderly residents an alternative to having to drag their trash bins out to the curb.
The program is open to the disabled or residents over 65 years of age, and the city currently has no verification process for determining whether requests are legitimate.
Raleigh surveyed similar programs in other cities and found that the percentage of households participating in the Capital City is much higher than elsewhere. Charlotte, for example, has just 2,002 households participating in its program even though its trash department services 93,000 more households than Raleigh.
Tampa serves 83,000 households and only has 687 residents who participate in its program.
The four cities surveyed by Raleigh--Durham, Greensboro, Charlotte and Tampa--all have some verification process in place to prevent people from taking advantage of their need assistance programs.
The Solid Waste Services Department is recommending that Raleigh require potential participants in the program to fill out an application explaining why they need assistance. The application would also ask whether there is anyone else living at the residence who is able to bring the container to the curb.
Residents would also be required to submit a statement from a doctor verifying their inability to bring trash and recycling containers to the curb.
It costs the city about $905,000 a year to provide backdoor trash pickup to the 4,100 households in its need assistance program. If it cut that number in half it would save about $450,000 a year.
The City Council meets at 1 p.m. on Tuesday in the council chamber, 222 W. Hargett Street.