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Published: Friday, 7/11/2008

Nearly half of Toledo homes recycling at the curb

BLADE STAFF

Nearly half of Toledo's households are participating in the city's curbside recycling program - up from 27 percent this time last year, Mayor Carty Finkbeiner said yesterday.

Mr. Finkbeiner made the announcement during a news conference to highlight eight "Green Initiatives" the city has implemented within the last year.

Ninety-six percent of the 10,000 homes in the city's automated garbage truck pilot program are recycling and 44 percent of the remaining 82,000 homes in the city recycle at the curb, the mayor said.

"That was obviously encouraged by the rate charges we put in place," Mr. Finkbeiner said.

In May, Toledo's trash fee jumped from $5.50 a month to $7 for those who don't recycle. Recyclers pay $2 - down from $3.

The fee will increase again on May 1, 2009, to $8.50 a month for those who don't recycle and drop to $1 for those who do.

Beginning May 1, 2010, the fee increases to $10 a month for those who don't recycle and drops to zero for those who participate in curbside recycling.

Residents in the automated pilot program received two 96-gallon containers - one for trash and the other for recyclables - that are picked up by trucks equipped with an automated side arm.

Bill Franklin, the city's public service director, said the recycling rate could jump to at least 80 percent citywide when trash from all homes is picked up by automated trucks.

In 2007 and early 2008, the city's department of neighborhoods identified the 12 worst locations under Toledo's anti-littering enforcement campaign.

The city conducted an annual spring clean-up event by having 61 organizations and 893 people pick up 56,000 pounds of trash and 78 tires and remove 72 illegal signs.

Mr. Finkbeiner also highlighted:

•The Toledo Waterways Initiative, a long-term plan to update the city's sewer system and improve water quality in Swan Creek and the Ottawa and Maumee rivers.

•The rain-garden initiative, formed to inspire people, businesses, and groups to create rain gardens, capturing water that would have ended up in the basements of homes during heavy rainfall.

A rain garden is a shallow depression planted with native plants, designed to capture rain and allow it to be absorbed slowly into the ground.

•Environmental permitting, by which the division of environmental services implemented a system of compliance tracking that helps the city identify companies in noncompliance with air-quality requirements.

•The city's promotion of environmental conservation practices, such as "green" buildings.

•The city's "green policies," to promote sustainable development strategies, such as the purchase of 14 new hybrid fleet vehicles.

•A proposal for the state of Ohio to locate a Center for Alternative Energy in Toledo.

The city's full list of green initiatives is posted on the city's Web site, www.toledo.oh.gov.

- Ignazio Messina



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