City Council Hits Grand Slam for Resource Recovery
Commissioner Tommy Adkisson
August 15, 2006

I have spent a lifetime fighting landfills. Because I know that I cannot fight what I'm feeding, I will spend the time during the rest of my life promoting reducing, reusing and recycling. But what the San Antonio City Council did last Thursday dwarfs anything I can ever do about recycling: they passed a single stream method of trash pickup!

The City is proposing an acceleration of the mechanized collection system from a 7 year citywide implementation to a 3.5 year schedule. And because of the acceleration it will allow more San Antonio households to participate in the mechanized collection system earlier. It will also serve to keep the collection workers from being injured, and keep our neighborhoods cleaner and neater on collection day.

The newly proposed mechanized collection system has been expanded to provide two 96 gallon carts per home: one for recyclable materials, and the other one for non-recyclable materials (trash). This capacity (the two 96 gallon carts) is twice the national average of materials generated from a typical home in a week, and should be more than enough to hold the recyclables and trash.

About 80% of materials thrown away today are actually recyclable! As such, the recycling items accepted at the curb has also been expanded to include paperboard (cereal & cracker boxes, other paper packaging), clean flattened cardboard, magazines, junk mail, office paper, and other clean paper. Also taken are glass bottles and jars (clear, green, brown); plastics with recycling logo (on bottom) labeled #1 thru #7; tin, steel and aluminum cans; empty aerosol cans; and clean aluminum pie pans; and newspapers and advertisements.

The City also encourages "grass-cycling" which leaves the grass clippings on the lawn instead of raking and bagging them as trash, as a further recycling effort. This "grass-cycling" saves about 2 hours of raking and bagging time, preserves landfill space, saves money as the clippings break down into nutrients which fertilize the lawn, and saves water as the clippings reduce water evaporation from the soil.

The newly proposed collection system will be implemented a few areas at a time over the next 3.5 years. When the new system is coming to a neighborhood, an announcement will be provided to attend a community information meeting. About a week before the 96 gallon carts are to arrive, you will receive a door hanger notifying you that they are coming in about one week.

Both containers will be delivered at the same time with instructions on how to use them. The first collection day of the week will be for trash only, they second collection day of the week will be for recyclables only (no trash is to be placed inside the recycling cart as it will contaminate the recyclables). The recycling cart will have a decal inside the lid showing a list of the accepted materials.

The carts are to remain the property of the City of San Antonio and will be maintained by the City. You may call 311 for assistance with cart maintenance.

The City offers a medical waiver for physical impairments and elderly assistance if required, to roll the cart to the curb.

The City has proposed to expand the route areas outward from the current mechanized collection areas. About 70,000 homes will be added to this type of collection this year. The rest of the City will be implemented over the remaining 2.5 years. Some areas (very few) may remain on manual collections due to space constraints.

Working together and with your help, perhaps the day will come when landfills in our urban County will be a thing of the past!

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