Faceoff

Is Raleigh's move to big bins a good idea?

March 1, 2010 

Switch to biweekly collection makes good sense

BY BIANCA M. HOWARD

Biweekly recycling cart collection, which Raleigh soon will begin phasing in, will improve the city's curbside recycling in several ways.

These changes will give residents more capacity to recycle, make the materials easier to transport and increase efficiency.

Raleigh's recycling program has grown tremendously since it began in 1989, but the size of our containers hasn't kept pace with the growing variety of materials we accept. Drive down the streets of Brier Creek, Falls River or Hedingham on collection day, and you'll see green bins brimming with juice cartons, soda cans and cereal boxes.

As we transition to biweekly collection, each household will receive a 95-gallon cart, giving residents five times the space they now have.

Providing larger containers now is important for future recycling opportunities. As technology improves and demand for recycled-content products grows, we'll be prepared to accommodate materials those new markets will accept.

Residents and collectors should find carts easier to move than bins. The majority of the city will be serviced by fully automated trucks, which means the driver won't get out of the cab. He will be protected from wind, rain and intense sun.

In areas where full automation is not possible, the crew can roll the cart to the truck, hook it onto a cart tipper and empty it with the flip of a switch.

Although some might be unhappy about biweekly service, we believe they will embrace the increased capacity and convenience that carts will bring.

Bianca M. Howard is community education specialist for Raleigh Solid Waste Services.

Bigger is not always better

BY MATTHEW EISLEY
STAFF WRITER

Maybe Raleigh's move to collect recyclable trash in much bigger bins every two weeks instead of weekly is progress, but it doesn't seem so at my house.

Our handy green recycling bin rarely fills each week, so we don't need something bigger. (Yes, I realize that some people do.)

And it sure won't be an improvement to go from weekly pickup to collection every two weeks. Especially in the summer - that's going to promote more smelly fermentation and attract more bugs and other critters.

Raleigh officials say they expect their overhaul of the recycling program will boost participation. I have my doubts. In my family's case, it might reduce participation, because we'll probably just throw more into the garbage can.

I get that using giant 95-gallon bins on wheels will make it possible to collect more recyclables in future years. But now granny and junior will have two big bins to roll to the street, instead of a big bin for garbage and a small one for recycling. All in all, this will register at my house as a loss of service, not an upgrade.

It was the same when Raleigh changed its garbage pickup from twice to once a week several years ago. I'm sure that was more efficient for the city, and it might have saved me a few tax dollars each year.

But the maggots in my giant can of rotting garbage weren't worth the tradeoff.

Raleigh should give residents the choice of small vs. large recycling bins - and weekly pickup, too.

Going back to higher levels of service would be the best recycling of all.

Matthew Eisley is editor of North Raleigh News and Midtown Raleigh News.

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