Recycling Pilot OK’d for Multi-Family Units

A two-year $95,694 contract with Recycle Ann Arbor for a recycling incentive program for multi-family residential units has been approved by the Ann Arbor city council at its June 16, 2014 meeting. Such a pilot program is included in the city’s solid waste plan, which the city council adopted at its Oct. 7, 2013 meeting.

The solid waste plan includes evaluating methods to increase recycling participation through pilot programs. Among those methods is the introduction of a recycling incentive program for multi‐family housing units. The city council discontinued the RecycleBank incentive program for single-family residential units with a vote on May 22, 2012, which eliminated funding for the RecycleBank program in the FY 2013 budget. After two years of implementation, in connection with conversion to a single-stream curbside pickup program, the impact of the incentive program was not clear.

According to the staff memo accompanying the June 16 multi-family recycling pilot, a manual sort of waste conducted in the fall of 2012 found that only 12% of the trash that single-family residents threw away was recyclable, compared to 26% of the trash that multi-family residents threw away. The completion of the pilot program is expected in December 2016. According to the memo, Recycle Ann Arbor’s proposal includes:

  1. Gather information on best multi-family recycling practices in North America.
  2. Survey and/or interview key multi-family constituencies in Ann Arbor to better understand the challenges and opportunities for recycling in this sector. Based on feedback received, develop 3 to 5 methodologies for further testing and analysis.
  3. Identify pilot parameters and measurement protocols.
  4. Identify pilot communities to involve in the pilot programs (ultimately targeting approximately 1,000 units) and ramp up pilot start-up.
  5. Implement pilot programs.
  6. Analyze results of pilot programs.
  7. Provide detailed recommendations to the City on best practices and report results to participating multi-family communities.

Methodologies that will be tested as part of the pilot will include the following:

  • Recycling rewards program: Evaluate if a recycling rewards program would be effective in improving recycling participation rates in multi-family locations
  • Indoor collection bins: Most multi-family locations share outdoor recycling bins. Determine if the provision of indoor recycling bins would help increase recycling rates.
  • Multi-family recycling leader program: Determine if the use of recycling leaders at individual locations would help increase recycling rates.
  • 300-gallon recycling cart: Determine if the use of 300-gallon carts instead of the standard 96-gallon cart would help increase recycling.

In other action on recycling issues taken by the council at its June 16 meeting,  a $39,480 reimbursement to Resource Recovery Systems – the city’s contracted operator of its materials recovery facility (MRF) – was approved for repair of the baler infeed conveyor belt. According to a staff memo accompanying the item, the belt was last replaced in 2007, and has worn out. Such conveyors are described in the memo as lasting five to seven years.

At the same meeting, the council also approved a $35,000 annual contract with Recycle Ann Arbor for services associated with the move-out of University of Michigan students. According to the staff memo on the item, RAA’s proposal includes a staffed drop-off location at the corner of Tappan and Oakland streets during student fall and spring move-out periods. The site is also used to collect reusable items (through organizations such as the Salvation Army, Kiwanis, or the Reuse Center), bulky metal items, and recyclable materials.

During council discussions on June 16, it emerged that Tom McMurtrie, the city’s solid waste coordinator, will be retiring. Several councilmembers praised his work. Craig Hupy, the city’s public services area administrator, indicated that a replacement for McMurtrie has been identified.

This brief was filed from the city council’s chambers on the second floor of city hall, located at 301 E. Huron.