Cardboard ban part of recycling compromise

Published: Jan. 20, 2017 at 11:38 AM CST
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Mayor Chris Beutler, City Council members and recycling advocates Friday announced that a new recycling ordinance will be introduced Monday, January 23 that would ban cardboard from the City landfill beginning April 1, 2018.

Diverting cardboard to increase the City’s recycling rate is part of the compromise among the Mayor and City Council members announced yesterday.

“The compromise with the Council passes the most critical parts of the Recycle Lincoln ordinance,” Mayor Beutler said. “Cardboard will be diverted from the landfill, curbside recycling will be available to those who choose to have it, and data will be collected to measure our progress on increasing the recycling rate.”

Beutler was joined at the news conference by Council Chair Leirion Gaylor Baird, Council member Jane Raybould, Chelsea Johnson of the Nebraska League of Conservation Voters and recycling supporters.

Under the ordinance, all refuse haulers will have curbside recycling service available to any home or business that chooses to subscribe.

The City will expand capacity at the free recycling drop-off sites. Recycling centers and haulers will report annually on materials collected and customers served. The ordinance does not include penalties for those who violate the ban.

A recycling ordinance that was introduced last summer also called for newspaper and other paper products to be diverted in future years.

The Mayor said that step would not take place until the cardboard ban had been reviewed and the City Council had considered another ordinance with a public hearing.

The City Council passed a recycling ordinance without the cardboard ban last year, but the Mayor vetoed it because he said it eliminated key elements of the plan. He said the compromise is a “big victory for Lincoln,” which buries 19,000 tons of cardboard in the City landfill every year.

“In doing so, we use up expensive landfill space for a product that the market is eager to recycle,” Beutler said. “That is bad for the environment and bad for the economy. Instead, shouldn’t we be spending our money to divert this cardboard back into the market to be recycled into new products? And at the same time, reduce the pressure to invest millions to expand the landfill? It just makes good sense.”

A petition drive has gathered thousands of signatures to put the Recycle Lincoln Initiative on the ballot. Drive organizers say they will continue to gather signatures until the new ordinance is signed, and will reconsider the continuation of the drive at that point.

Raybould said the petition drive has received “overwhelming and enthusiastic support” from the community. “This message of support was heard loud and clear by all of us on the City Council, so I am grateful to my colleagues for standing with us in moving our City forward on the very important issue.”

“These changes do more than improve Lincoln’s recycling rates -- they enable us to take a big step forward as a community,” said Gaylor Baird. “They empower us to be better stewards of our environment and taxpayer dollars. They support the smart, sustainable growth of our City. Put simply, they achieve progress. Credit for this progress goes to the thousands of Lincoln citizens who called for change and to the Recycle Lincoln volunteer leaders who galvanized them. They devoted their time, energy, creativity, and talents to the cause, and they’re the reason we’re getting this done.”