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Austin Rolling Out $500,000 Recycle Education Program

Updated: Saturday, August 3 2013, 10:47 PM CDT

The City of Austin wants to achieve zero waste by 2040. So how is Austin doing? And how much are you shelling out for education programs?

A new ordinance went into effect Oct. 1 requiring large commercial and multi-family properties to offer recycling.

Balcones Resources started processing 60 percent of the city’s recycling last week. That’s added onto their hefty load of commercial business.

“The City delivers approximately 200 tons of material per day three days a week. We have materials from other municipalities that totals another 1,000 tons a month,” said Balcones Resources CEO, Kerry Getter.

On a single shift the plant can process 25 tons. The added material means more jobs.

“We added a few, but have about 50 people on our campus,” said Getter.

But are people recycling the right items?

“Strangely enough we get a lot of garden hoses, plastics that can't be recycled, clothing and things of that nature,” said Getter.

Getter says those mistakes are costing the plant extra dollars. In the end those items end up back where they should have gone, the landfill.

The City wants to ensure this doesn’t happen to the new properties required to recycle. That’s why officials are rolling out an education program.

“We are in the process of developing posters and tip sheets that provide additional educational materials for those properties,” said Austin Resource Recovery, Aiden Cohen.

The cost to taxpayers?

“Both educational material and educational outreach is approximately $500,000 a year. We expect that for a couple years, but then that baseline of cost should fall,” said Cohen.

The city defends education program, saying it will eventually encourage people to reduce the waste, which will offset the cost.

The materials that can be recycled are mixed paper, cardboard, glass bottles and jars, plastic containers and aluminum cans.

The city’s next phase to become a zero waste city starts March 2013. An ordinance will require businesses to stop using plastic bags.

By Christie PostAustin Rolling Out $500,000 Recycle Education Program


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