You walk out to the curb, arms filled with empty milk jugs, cereal boxes and, of course, a copy of last week’s Cranston Herald. You hesitate, surveying the contents of the green recycling bin and the blue, determining what recyclables belong in what bin.
As of next week, it won’t make any difference what color recycling cart is out at curbside. If it’s blue or green, city trucks will empty it. No longer does paper and cardboard go in one cart and bottles, cans and plastic into another. It can be mixed. But the “no bin, no pick up” policy will remain in place, and is picking up speed in other municipalities.
Warwick has adopted the policy Cranston implemented in 2009 in an effort to increase recycling and develop a predictable stream of collections.
Does it make sense that residents are being told to place partially filled carts – even empty carts – out for collection just to ensure their trash is picked up? Initially, residents pushed back on the idea, but more than two years later, the results speak for themselves: recycling rates increased in Cranston after the policy took effect. Cranston’s rate of recycling is 22.2 percent – good, but there is still room for improvement. Mayor Allan Fung is hopeful that simplifying the recycling process will result in even higher rates. The more cities and towns recycle, after all, the more they are reimbursed by the state. Not to mention the obvious environmental benefit.
This city administration believes the Cranston rate can be better (better even than Warwick’s slightly higher 26.2 percent rate of recycling), especially now that Rhode Island Resource Recovery, in addition to accepting mixed recyclables, has expanded it to many forms of plastic that formerly went into the landfill. So, if this plan works, those recycling carts will be sure to always have something in them.
The second reason is just as good; to level off recyclable collections and to establish a steady flow for more efficient handling. This translates into savings when collection trucks don’t have to make two runs to Johnston in one day, especially with the second truck being practically empty.
Ideally, the day will come when we’re only putting recyclable carts at curbside while everything else ends up in the garden as compost. Until then, you can forget whether your junk mail belongs in green or blue; just don’t forget to recycle.