City to close more than half of its recycling drop-off locations

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(MGN Image)(WLUC)
Published: Jun. 23, 2020 at 5:04 PM CDT
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Starting next week recycling sites across Lincoln will begin to close.

14 to 15 of them to be closed by December and replaced with four to five larger sites.

It's in an effort to save an estimated two million dollars a year and increase efficiency.

"Right now we have to use three trucks to pick up, going to 19 different locations, it costs travel time, this will decrease the price by half," Donna Garden, assistant director of Lincoln Transportation and Utilities said.

But some users aren't happy about this change.

"I'm disgusted," Celia Sherman said.

Sherman, who lives outside Lincoln, drives her recycling 20 miles into town.

"I think we have a misconception of the vast limitless places we can dump trash," Sherman said. "It's important to take care of the environment."

She said this change could make it harder to do that.

"It takes so long to get people on board to recycle," Sherman said. "To take this away will make it nearly impossible."

Garden said they're working on travel studies to determine the most convenient locations.

"Hopefully they won't be going much further than they are now," Garden said.

Garden said the change in convenience won't just help the city's bottom line, but it could also help yours.

"Everybody is paying for this and we want to make it as efficient as possible," Garden said. "We don't want to have to raise rates more than we're asking for now."

So far the city has decided they will keep the sites at Seacrest Field and 48th and Superior. On their website they also have listed two potential sites. One off West P street and one near 27th and Pine Lake.

They haven't released a timeline of when closures will take place but they expect the consolidation to be done by December.


Lincoln Transportation and Utilities Director Elizabeth Elliott announced on Tuesday plans to consolidate Lincoln and Lancaster County recycling drop off sites. The transition from 19 neighborhood sites to four or five main collection sites is expected to be completed in December and will save an estimated $2 million per year.

Elliott said the decision increases efficiency and helps the division manage budget restrictions caused by the pandemic. “Requiring our collector trucks to drive to 19 different locations to pick up bins and then transfer them to our solid waste operation is expensive and not sustainable,” Elliott said. “Consolidating the recyclables collection program is expected to reduce operation costs by $130 per ton of recycling material.”

The latest information on recycling and the consolidation is available at

Elliott said LTU will begin closing sites as early as next week. Signs notifying residents of site closures and directing residents to other sites will be posted during the transition. Two current collection sites have been selected as final sites: the Seacrest Field parking lot at 70th and “A” streets and the North 48th Street Transfer Station at 5101 N. 48th St. These sites will be expanded as other sites are closed. The other two or three locations have not been determined, and new sites will be available to all Lincoln and Lancaster County residents.

Elliott said the new larger sites will be designed to accommodate an increased amount of recyclable material. She said the consolidation will also allow for better security to monitor for overflow and illegal dumping. Putting trash in recycling bins is a misdemeanor offense.

Data provided by recycling collectors show the number of residents who invested in curbside recycling grew 24 percent from 2017 to 2018. About 40 percent of single-family households now subscribe to curbside recyclables collection in Lincoln. Data also show that residents with curbside pickup recycle four-and-a-half times more material than others.

Lincoln’s cardboard ordinance remains in effect. Since cardboard diversion began April 1, 2018, Lincoln has diverted an additional 14,000 tons of cardboard per year. LTU Assistant Director Donna Garden said the benefits of recycling far outweigh the costs. “Recycling programs also lessen the demand for virgin resources and raw materials, prevent unnecessary pollution and waste cleanup costs, and should ultimately cost taxpayers less than garbage disposal,” she said.