The city of Niagara Falls, population 50,000, increased recycling efforts through education, public awareness and new enforcement procedures. In nearby Buffalo, NY progress is slower.
Niagara Falls had the lowest curbside recycling rate in the region at 4 percent, a 2014 Investigative Post analysis found. Investigative Post analyzed the 2012 garbage and recycling data from the 10 largest municipalities in Erie and Niagara counties and found the rates were substantially below the national average in every locality but Amherst.
After the Investigative Post report, Niagara Falls launched a new recycling program in the summer of 2014, revised its solid waste laws for the first time in 40 years, and created the Solid Waste Education and Enforcement Team tasked with educating residents on the correct way to recycle.
D’Angelo, the program’s coordinator, said the city now limits the amount of garbage a household can throw away to what can fit in a 64-gallon tote each week and offers a 96-gallon tote for bi-weekly recycling. The city also has a part-time employee who scouts neighborhoods for compliance and uses what D’Angelo called “Oops Tags” to educate residents who are not recycling or are violating the garbage ordinance. Additional violations can result in a $75 fine, but the city has not issued any, she said.
D’Angelo, whose background is in marketing, said she spent the $100 out of pocket for the Totes McGoats mask and shirt — an idea that went viral.
“I had this strongest feeling of butterflies, I think a whole colony, because just from showing it to my friends and coworkers, they would immediately laugh and no one had ever seen anything like it,” she said.
The goals of the program, according to Mayor Paul Dyster in 2014, were to reduce garbage collections by 10 percent and increase the recycling rate to 20 percent.
The city came close to meeting the curbside recycling goal and exceeded the garbage reduction goal in the program’s first full year.
In 2015, the city reached a recycling rate of 17 percent and reduced its garbage tonnage by almost one-fifth, even without a program to compost yard waste.
“We want to get it up a few points every year until we are decreasing what we’re putting in the landfill significantly,” D’Angelo said.
Read the full story here from Investigative Post, May 25, 2016