U.S. Cities Continue To Expand Curbside Recycling Programs

Los Angeles - Curbside recycling programs are becoming a permanent fixture on America's urban landscape.

For example, in late April, the City of Los Angeles completed the roll-out of its curbside program with the final delivery of yellow recycling bins to a Westside neighborhood.

Currently, all 720,000 households serviced by the City's Bureau of Sanitation have received a yellow bin for cans, glass containers and plastic bottles. Bundled newspapers, magazines and corrugated cardboard also are being collected. In addition, households receive green containers for yard trimmings, which the city composts and then markets. Since it began in 1990, Los Angeles' program reportedly has become the largest in North America.

"The completion of the yellow recycling bin roll-out is a major milestone for Los Angeles," said J.P. Ellman, public works president. "Residents produce an average of seven pounds of trash per person each working day, a daily total of 12,000 tons. Now, we expect to exceed our goals and reduce our waste stream by 35 percent by the end of 1995."

Meanwhile, in Chesapeake, Va., the Southeastern Public Service Authority (SPSA) has expanded its curbside recycling program to serve an additional 150,000 homes, bringing the total to more than 300,000.

In order to provide the expanded service, SPSA has switched from weekly to biweekly collection. The schedule change enables SPSA to collect more materials using the same resources, reducing the costs to SPSA and its member communities, according to authority officials.

Officials are optimistic about the program's future. "We need to let the public know it's cheaper to recycle a ton of waste than to collect and dispose of it," said Joe Thomas, SPSA director of recycling.

The conversion and expansion is expected to be complete by the end of July. The SPSA, which manages waste for eight local governments in southeastern Virginia, is funded through tipping fees as well as the sale of energy to the U.S. Navy.