Rethinking Waste in Flagstaff


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The long-term goals of Rethink Waste Plan is to divert 90% of waste by 2050. The Rethink Waste Plan prioritizes waste reduction over recycling or other diversion methods like composting. Within the next two years, the Rethink Waste Plan will be introducing Volumetric pricing, or pay-as-you-throw, which will provide incentives for people to minimize waste, increase recycling, increase composting and other diversion methods.  The Rethink Waste Plan is also looking to increase access to recycling in apartment complexes in the next two years. Outreach and education on volumetric pricing will begin in 2020, with new cart sizes being rolled out in 2021.
City Sustainability Staff acknowledges that it is essential to reduce the current contamination rates of 34% before volumetric pricing is implemented. The City’s current contract for recycling does not charge for the additional costs of this contamination, but future contracts will likely charge for what has been a significant increase in costs for recycling. Education outreach on recycling contamination has been ongoing at many community events and through the Master Recycler program, but much more needs to be done.
There are cameras on the back of recycling trucks for safety issues. However, these cameras can also show when large amounts of contamination are in a recycling bin. Occasionally stickers are applied to these bins to increase awareness about contamination. There is a proposal to have spot-inspections and stickers applied to bins for recycling contamination by both contractors and possibly even volunteers as a part of an education campaign. Issues of privacy for residents and safety for people doing the contamination outreach were addressed.
Continued confusion about the new plastic recycling policies is an ongoing problem for contamination rates. Numbers on the bottom of plastics are no longer relevant, but only “bottle, jugs, and jars” (keep the caps on) are recyclable. Plastic bags, yogurt cups, plastic salad boxes, clamshells, and styrofoam, along with many other plastics are no longer recyclable. Check out  www.recyclebycity.com if you have questions or contact the sustainability city staff.
F3 supports volumetric pricing, or pay-as-you-throw, as an effective policy to reduce waste in Flagstaff. We also see it as a reward to many of our members who have consistently reduced their waste through effective recycling, composting, and reducing their consumption. Thank you for your efforts to get Flagstaff towards the goal of zero waste.