The city is dropping its efforts to buy new recycling bins and outfit garbage trucks to lift them automatically.
Instead of spending $1.5 million on capital improvements that might make it easier to recycle, the city will try a free marketing campaign to get residents to stop throwing away paper and plastic.
The new campaign includes infomercials, a rap song and a catch-phrase that combines “recycling” and “revolution” into “recyclution.”
And for those who just want someone to explain what can go into which recycling container, the city has turned its complicated recycling booklet into a one-page brochure that can be read at a glance.
Commissioner of General Services Carl Olsen unveiled the plan at Monday’s City Council meeting, to immediate approval.
“This educational packet, it’s fantastic. Fabulous!” said Councilman Thomas Della Sala.
The overall goal is to save the city money. Schenectady must pay to haul trash to a landfill, while recyclables cost much less. The city could save $18,679 if recycling increases by just one percent.
“If everybody recycles 11⁄2 to 2 more pounds [a year], we could save that money,” Olsen said.
He’s starting the campaign with a pilot program in two neighborhoods: part of Mont Pleasant and part of Bellevue. City workers will track the recycling there as they “saturate” the residents with information. The schools will also pass along recycling pamphlets.
The selected area in Bellevue has nearly twice as many two-family homes as the area chosen in Mont Pleasant, giving the city a chance to see whether information needs to be tweaked to better reach renters.
After fine-tuning, Olsen said, the campaign will go citywide. The pilot begins in April.
“If that doesn’t work, we’ll regroup and see what we can do to get people to participate,” he said.
Olsen originally wanted to get residents to recycle more by eliminating two basic problems: the annoyance of having to separate paper from containers, and having to carry recycling bins to the road.
His solution was wheeled bins into which residents could mix every recyclable product. But recycling companies didn’t go for it.
“We didn’t get any bids at all,” Olsen said.
He’s going to send out bids for mixed recyclables again without asking for the $1.5 million investment.
“Taking out the need for the capital investment, I think that takes away a lot of the risk, and we may get more responses,” he said.
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