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Major Expansion of City’s Curbside Recycling Program Coming

Mayor Kasim Reed says expanded residential recycling is central to Atlanta’s plan to become a top tier city for sustainability

Flanked by several blue 96-gallon curbside recycling carts last week, Mayor Kasim Reed announced an aggressive expansion of the City’s residential recycling program. 

Beginning October 15, the City of Atlanta will deliver 96-gallon recycling carts to 66,000 households, at the rate of one thousand per day. The citywide distribution of carts is a key component of the City’s sustainability plan, Power to Change, which has a long-term goal of achieving 90 percent diversion of municipal waste by 2020, among other measures.

The City of Atlanta’s recycling program is managed by the Department of Public Works and serves 95,000 households. The new 96-gallon recycling carts will replace residents’ current 18-gallon recycling bins, allowing for more recyclables to be collected. About 30,000 residents already have carts.
 
According to the City officials, currently Atlanta residents generate 96,000 tons of trash annually, which costs the City $7 million a year to dispose of in landfills. City of Atlanta residents recycle only 12,000 tons annually, which leaves significant room for improvement. In addition to the environmental benefits, diverting recyclables from landfills produces revenue for the City at a rate of $30 per ton. 
 
“One of my goals as mayor is to see Atlanta become a top tier city for sustainability,” Reed said in a news release. “Recycling is an important step towards that goal, as we make Atlanta a greener place to live, work and play. Rolling out these new large capacity recycling carts will make it easier for residents to recycle more.”

The push for expanded recycling will be led by a partnership among the City of Atlanta’s Mayor’s Office of Sustainability, Department of Public Works and the Curbside Value Partnership (CVP), which has been enlisted to help develop and measure an education campaign designed to educate and encourage residents about the best use of the new carts.
 
CVP is a national, invitation-only program designed to help communities grow their curbside programs through education. Since 2005, CVP has partnered with 30 communities and four states to develop, execute and measure highly effective education campaigns.
 
“Today marks a key milestone in the City’s march to a greener, more sustainable future,” Duriya Farooqui, Chief Operating Officer, said in the press release. “Through a public private partnership with CVP and collaboration among great organizations like the U.S. EPA, Coca-Cola, Atlanta Recycles and the Georgia Recycling Coalition, the city is able to offer expanded service at no additional cost to residents and leverage private sector resources. Recycling isn’t just a good thing to do, it’s smart, efficient government in action.”
 
In collaboration with CVP, the City will implement and measure a grassroots education campaign designed to increase awareness for the new carts, resulting in higher participation and, ultimately, increased recycling volume. The campaign, Cartlanta: Recycling. Get Into It, will launch this fall. Education activities will include direct marketing around the rollout of the new carts to residents, an enhanced Web and social media presence, advertising, public relations and grassroots, community-level outreach. The City will measure the impact of the campaign via the Emerge Knowledge Re-TRAC Connect data management tool.
 
“Introducing large recycling carts is a proven way to increase participation and improve tonnage for local recycling programs,” said Dexter White, Deputy Commissioner, Department of Public Works. “Per person per household, we throw away more than double the national average. We can do better. These larger carts and our Cartlanta education campaign will make sure we do.” 

- The City of Atlanta contributed to this story

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