When Ann Arbor residents leave their corrugated cardboard out (before 7 a.m.) for curbside pickup by Recycle Ann Arbor, sometimes it doesn’t disappear by the time they’ve returned home in the evening. It will be sitting in the same neat pile they left it in – with one difference. Stuck to the top of the pile will be an orange sticky note declaring: “Your corrugated cardboard wasn’t prepared properly.”
In three cases of orange stickering observed by The Chronicle in the last two weeks, we reached the conclusion that pickup foundered on the requirement that bundles be no larger than 3 x 3 ft. And it’s this requirement that truck drivers have little discretion to overlook, because the size requirement is determined by the dimensions of the truck openings – a fact that’s noted towards the bottom of the orange stickers.
For residents who don’t read all the way to the bottom of their orange stickers, it would be understandable if their reaction to finding their pile of cardboard rejected was something along the lines of, “Whaddaya want me to do … tie it up with a damn bow?” Of course, that’s not necessary, but some people do it anyway.
For example, Kelly Moffet, who works part-time for the Chelsea Flower Shop on Liberty Street in downtown Ann Arbor, is responsible for the bright pink ribbon-tied cardboard in the photo accompanying this story. She says that on her first day of work, her boss told her to tie up the cardboard with ribbon to “keep it from blowing away.” Any color would work for that purely utilitarian purpose, but Kelly chooses the brightest ribbon they have on hand, because she “just likes bright colors.” And it works out nicely, because in Kelly’s experience, in the course of normal business, the shop uses less of the super-bright colored ribbons. So there’s always something bright to choose from.
It’s a fair question to ask: “Doesn’t Kelly’s ribbon-tied cardboard exceed the size allowed for pickup?” Although The Chronicle didn’t put a tape measure to the bundles, eyeballing them in the photo suggests that they’re bigger than 3 x 3 ft. and thicker than 6 in.
But a phone call to Recycle Ann Arbor confirmed that the Recycle Ann Arbor standard does not apply in this case. It’s not that commercial bundles are allowed to be bigger, it’s that Recycle Ann Arbor doesn’t serve the Downtown Development District (DDA). Instead, the DDA area is served by the City of Ann Arbor, which uses different trucks than Recycle Ann Arbor.
As a reminder, here are the Recycle Ann Arbor guidelines for preparing cardboard for curbside recycling – lifted straight off an orange sticker:
- Flatten it.
- Remove and discard stuffing.
- Cut or fold into pieces up to 3 x 3 ft. in 6 in. bundles.
- Place at the curb, a few feet away from the trash.
- Place in bundles no more than 6 inches thick.
- Put out by 7 am on your recycling day.
- Smaller corrugated boxes, such as pizza boxes, may be placed loose in the newspaper (tan) recycling bin.
- Oversized pieces, Styrofoam, and packing materials can be taken to the Drop Off Station at Ellsworth & Platt Road.