City hoping to change recycling code to crack down on illegal dumping

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LINCOLN, Neb. The city of Lincoln collects over 7,000 tons of recycled materials a year but in the past year the city says thousands of unusable items have been dropped off at the sites creating costly problems.

The city is currently working on a re-branding plan to change the sites from being known as drop-off sites to consumer collection sites, as recent trips to the sites have shown people are seemingly just dropping off unwanted items.

At collection sites across the city the signs are very clear, outlining items that are not to be dumped but in some cases it seems to be going unnoticed.

“We’ve seen everything from pianos to hot tubs to bottles of oils,” said Donna Garden the assistant director for Lincoln Transportation and Utilities. “Things that cannot be recycled.”

Looking at the volume of illegal dumping at sites from September 2018 to August of this year the city saw 529 bags of trash, 161 tires, 110 quarts of oil and 1,152 other items that wouldn’t fit in any other category like used coolers of bio-medical supplies.

The city says even things that are supposed to be at the collection sites can be costly. Things left outside of the recycling bin itself are an extra charge to the city.

“People come out of the trucks and pick up the materials manually,” said Garden. “That costs us a lot of money. That’s an extra cost for us in terms of the number of hours we’ve spent doing that.”

The city is moving to add to the city recycling code. Most collection sites are actually on private property so the city wants to re-work the language to help with illegal dumping enforcement.

“We would actually have to go to the owner first to get them to do something about it,” said Garden. “We decided to change the code so we would be able to prosecute without having to go through the owner first.”

The changes have the seal of approval from the Department of Health.
After Thanksgiving it’ll go in front of the City Council.



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