Champaign council to review recycling practices

Champaign council to review recycling practices

CHAMPAIGN – Ugar Uygur is a Champaign apartment dweller who recycles. But he would like to feel less guilty about it.

Champaign currently doesn't require that apartment owners provide recycling if an apartment building has more than four units. Uygur, who lives at 405 N. State St., gets around that hurdle by taking his recyclables to a neighbor who does get recycling service from his hauler.

"I share their service, with the neighbor's knowledge," he said. "The recycling people don't know it."

Having recycling services extended to apartments "would be very nice," he said.

For the first time in several years, the Champaign City Council will take up the issue of expanding recycling services to apartments, as well as whether to expand a variety of other recycling services.

The council meets in study session at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Champaign City Building, 102 N. Neil St.

No final decisions will be made at the meeting, but council members are expected to vote on whether they want city staff to explore alternatives and provide more information.

There appears to be strong council support for requiring recycling at apartment buildings, which Urbana has done for several years.

Interviews with eight of the nine Champaign council members show that seven of them – all except for Mayor Jerry Schweighart – want the city to explore apartment recycling.

Council member Tom Bruno said he has changed his long-standing position that it's better to let the marketplace decide such an issue.

"I think there's a societal benefit in requiring recycling," he said. "The marketplace hasn't taken into consideration the benefits to everyone in making recycling ubiquitous."

Council member Deborah Frank Feinen has been pushing the issue for months, and she encouraged the general public to attend Tuesday's meeting to express their opinions.

"I'd like to provide as much (recycling) access for as many materials as possible for as many people as possible," she said. "It needs to be user friendly and cost-effective."

"We really need to be on the forefront," agreed fellow council member Gina Jackson. "I don't know why this is so hard."

Council members who favor offering recycling services at apartments said, for the most part, that they aren't sure yet what would be the best method to accomplish that goal. One would be simply to mandate that haulers who serve apartment buildings be required to offer recycling. Another method would be to follow Urbana's model, where the city contracts with a single vendor to provide recycling services at apartments and pays for it through a $2.50 per month recycling tax per apartment.

Schweighart appears to be the only dissenting voice.

"It's going to cost a lot of money," he said. "This isn't the time to be imposing any user fee on the public."

Schweighart said the city might want to consider having a second recycling drop-off site in Campustown to serve University of Illinois students. The city currently operates a single drop-off site at 1701 Hagan Drive.

Champaign's recycling ordinance, which was put in place 15 years ago, requires haulers to provide recycling for single-family homes up to four-unit apartments. Haulers are required, at a minimum, to pick up newspapers, plastic jugs, glass bottles and tin and aluminum cans.

Other recycling options the council could consider, according to a staff memo, include:

– Expanding the types of recyclables that must be picked up.

– Establishing commercial recycling.

– Expanding special recycling events, such as for tires, household hazardous wastes, electronics, motor oil, batteries and bulk waste like mattresses, large appliances and furniture.

– Expanding the drop-off site.

– Increase recycling education and marketing efforts.

– Increase monitoring and auditing of hauler recycling efforts.