Columbia expands apartment, commercial recycling programs

Friday, October 7, 2011 | 6:11 p.m. CDT; updated 7:52 p.m. CDT, Friday, October 7, 2011

COLUMBIA — City officials and apartment tenants won't have to recycle alone anymore. The city is going to help them do it.

Two grants from the Mid-Missouri Solid Waste Management District will provide new recycling bins for eight city office buildings and three apartment complexes. The City Council authorized the grants at its meeting Monday night. The bins will be provided through Columbia's commercial and apartment recycling programs.

The grants provide $10,000 for the programs, which will be split evenly between the two programs. The city will provide an additional $3,334.

This is the first time the solid waste district has provided funds for the city's recycling programs, said waste minimization supervisor Layli Terrill.

The program for apartments provides drop-off bins for various complexes. The bins rotate between three complexes throughout the week, staying at each building for two to three days so residents can rid their homes of recyclables. Apartment Recycling Program provides drop-off bins to apartment complexes.

Thirty-three apartment complexes are involved in the program, which was implemented in 2000 and initially experienced some obstacles to participation, according to a previous Missourian article.

Amy Gastineau, property manager at Kelly's Ridge Apartments, said her complex has taken part in the program for more than four years, and that residents seem happy with it.

"It's good for the environment," she said. "A lot of them like to recycle, and it's nice to have (the bin) on the property."

Otherwise, residents would have to drive their waste out to bins in grocery store parking lots or other recycling sites scattered around the city.

Mike McGuire, property manager at Stadium Apartments, said his complex started with the program a few years ago because of a desire to go green. 

"I think our residents have really taken to it," he said. "It makes it easy for them to recycle. They would have to pack it up and drive it. Now they just walk it." 

Each drop-off bin can hold 14-cubic yards and is separated into sections for fiber products and food and beverage containers. The service is free to the apartment complexes and provides residents with a service usually denied them, Terrill said.

"Apartment complexes don't have the opportunity to recycle curbside like residential homes," she said. "We're trying to give them similar service."

The new bin will serve three buildings yet to be chosen by Terrill. She said she chooses complexes that want to participate, have more than 100 units to generate enough waste to fill the container and have a location that provides enough space for the bins.

Last fiscal year the program generated 184 tons of recycled waste, Terrill said. The city estimates that the new bin will add another 15 tons to that total.

This is the first time the city has received grant money for a drop-off bin. All previous bins were funded by the city, as well as maintenance, fuel for trucks and salaries for the workers who operate them.

While the apartments will get one giant bin, city buildings will receive office-size containers that fit alongside desks.

The Commercial Recycling Program was created in 2005 to encourage sustainable waste disposal by businesses. This, however, is the first time the city will have a real way to recycle its own waste, Terrill said.

"It's kind of a practice what you preach philosophy," she said. "The goal is to make it more convenient for city employees to recycle in their offices."

The employees currently have to provide their own recycling bins or cardboard boxes.

The new bins will go in 585 offices in eight city buildings. They're expected to collect 24.5 tons of waste annually.

Terrill said it will be four to five months before the apartments' bins arrive. She must first take bids for a provider. The office bins will be ready in two to three months.

Terrill hopes to get more participants in the recycling programs in the future, especially given the demand she hears from apartment residents.

"I have a lot of lot of tenants call me and want to get into the program," she said. "It makes it more convenient for them."

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