City Council to tackle recycling tonight


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The Iowa City City Council will discuss how to improve the city's recycling program at tonight's meeting.

City officials said the previously approved option of single-stream recycling — in which residents no longer have to sort their items for recycling — is not the right choice because of money and waste.

Instead, they said providing recycling resources to multifamily homes is a bigger issue.

Any multifamily residence consisting of more than four units does not have city-sponsored recycling facilities. And according to a letter written to the council by recycling coordinator Jennifer Jordan, 45 percent of Iowa City's households reside in multifamily homes without recycling.

Currently, there are about 14,800 curbside accounts in Iowa City, and approximately 65 percent of those regularly recycle, according to the letter.

While the number of accounts has increased about 5 percent since 2005, the amount of material recycled has decreased approximately 13 percent.

"I think … we can do a better job at recycling," Councilor Terry Dickens said. "I think we are going to have a good discussion."

To provide recycling services to future developments, Jordan recommended that the council amend the housing code to include recycling facilities in all new apartment buildings. For existing complexes, she suggested working with property owners to develop recycling options.

Councilor Connie Champion said multifamily housing is going to be her focus. She said she thinks changes to the building code will not be very difficult but noted that extending recycling to existing buildings may be challenging.

"Some of it may be easy," she said. "It's going to depend on who's going to cooperate."

Either way, it's a better option than single-stream recycling, Champion said.

With single stream, Jordan estimated in the letter, residents would have to pay an increase of 75 cents per month, partly because of the potential increase in contamination of recycled materials.

"We're in tough economic times and [single stream] is going to potentially cost us money," Councilor Susan Mims said.

In addition to extending recycling, Mims said, another goal is to provide more education.

In the letter, Jordan recommended that city officials develop a "comprehensive curbside recycling education and outreach program."

Iowa City does not have such an education program, but customers are handed a bin and a sheet of instructions, Jordan wrote.

Potential educational programs will be organized by the Land and Refuse Division's staff, she wrote, and could include simplifying the existing "how-to" sheet and developing online tutorials and video clips.

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