According to a city of Champaign report, haulers collected 61.5 tons of recyclables during December, the first month for the new multifamily recycling program.
I've been keeping an eye on this program because it caused a bit of a stir among citizens, landlords and haulers while it was making its way through the city council.
The fact is that 61.5 tons in a month is far lower than what city officials had hoped to collect. Throughout the legislative process, administrators said the new program would divert 2,600 tons annually from the landfill -- that means to hit their target, they would have to collect about 217 tons per month, more than three times what they picked up in December. At this pace, haulers will pick up about 738 tons by the end of the year.
In December, I wrote about my personal recycling habits and that I noticed the blue recycling toters outside my apartment were getting some very light use. I looked again this morning, and one of the two toters was full. Of course, this only speaks to the recycling habits of the people who live in my building.
There may have been a few reasons for the slow December. University of Illinois students make up a huge portion of the city's apartment residents, and they were gone on winter break for about half the month. And a lot of people still might not know the program exists.
Students were away for about half of January, too, so we might see it was another slow month when the numbers come in. The numbers for February might be the first accurate gauge we see with all the students here for a full month, but keep in mind that students will be gone from mid-May to mid-August every year, too. The city report says staff "will continue to market the program to encourage participation and expects consistent increases in volume."
Here's some information that is somewhat related, and also included in that city report:
Illini Recycling, 420 Paul Drive off of North Market Street, is now providing drop-off recycling. Illini is accepting cardboard, newspaper, magazines, office paper, glass bottles, plastic bottles numbered #1 through #7, tin and aluminum cans, and aluminum foil and pans. The drop-off is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.