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Published: Thursday, 9/16/2010

Recycling grows, but dumping a concern

BY IGNAZIO MESSINA
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Toledoans have been recycling more this year as more containers dedicated for plastic, paper, glass, and cardboard were delivered, but in some areas illegal dumping has been a problem because of tough new rules on bulk pickup, Councilman Michael Ashford said Thursday.

He said his office received many complaints this summer about illegal dumping in alleys and vacant lots, so he organized a "free dump day" on Aug. 21. "After that, we saw a decrease in illegal dumping," Mr. Ashford said.

Since then, on Aug. 24, new rules for refuse collection necessitated by the change to automated trash trucks went into effect and he's concerned people won't tolerate the rule and illegal dumping could increase again.

The most significant change is the elimination of free, unlimited bulky items at the curb. Now, each household is allowed one free collection each quarter for oversized or bulky items - such as televisions, appliances, couches, and any other debris that doesn't fit in the new containers provided for automated pickup. An additional collection of bulky items within a quarter will cost residents $50 for each pickup.

"People are becoming frustrated with illegal dumping in alleys and vacant lots," said Mr. Ashford, who represents downtown, the Old West End, and parts of north Toledo and central Toledo.

The city will hold its third and final free dump day from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at the Frederick Douglass Community Center, which Mr. Ashford said would help alleviate dumping.

Dave Welch, Toledo's director of public service, said alley and vacant lot dumping was a problem even when the city had unlimited pickup. "People still dumped their mattresses and stuff in the alleys when all they had to do is take it out to the front," he said.

Mr. Welch also said he expected recycling to continue increasing as residents become accustomed to the new rules regarding bulk pickup.

In January, the city collected 7,965 tons of refuse and 923.6 tons of recycling material when 30 percent of city households had received separate containers for trash and recyclables.

Last month, after nearly every household received the two containers, the city collected more than 13,885 tons of refuse and 1,754.4 tons of recycling material.

Meanwhile, the Bell administration continued efforts this week to reach an agreement with Teamsters Local 20, which represents refuse workers as well as city water-plant workers.

City officials declined to comment on the progress, and Teamsters Local 20 President Bill Lichtenwald could not be reached for comment.

Mr. Welch also declined to comment other than to say both sides "talked all day" Tuesday.

A majority of Toledo City Council last month rejected a fact-finder's recommendation for a contract with the Teamsters union that Mayor Mike Bell had said was too expensive for the city to pay.

The report advised a 2 percent raise effective the first pay period of July, 2011, or a 3 percent increase effective Jan. 1, 2012.

It also recommended a boost in the drivers' hourly rate to $21.08 from $18.03 and a lump-sum payment to compensate for the loss of $3.27 in incentives and bonuses an hour that was related to the city's way of collecting trash before automation. The fact finder refused the city's request for the workers to pay their own full 10 percent share of the pension contribution.

Contact Ignazio Messina at:

imessina@theblade.com

or 419-724-6171.



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