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Recycling Bins Could be Mandatory for Salt Lake City Businesses, Apartments

Bob Nelson

Local businesses and apartment complexes in Salt Lake City may soon be required to recycle. The city council is taking a look at the issue next week.

The proposal would require many businesses and multi-family property owners to implement recycling programs for use by tenants and employees. Debbie Lyons is the sustainability program director for Salt Lake City. She says single-family homes are recycling more, diverting as much as 40 percent of their recyclable waste from the landfill. 

“But we do know that half of our waste generated in the city comes from our business and multi-family sector,” Lyons says. “And we can’t meet aggressive diversion recycling goals without addressing that sector as well.”

Lyons says between only about 15 percent of waste generated by businesses and multi-family housing is being recycled. Right now, recycling is voluntary for that group.

According to the proposal, if a business or apartment complex generates four or more cubic yards of waste per week they’d have to develop a recycling program.

Paul Smith is executive director of the Utah Apartment Association. He says he would support an ordinance that considers several challenges, like cross contamination.

“We can’t control where tenants put what,” Smith says. “And if they put a pizza box and it still had pizza in the cardboard section, we don’t want to be fined for that. That’s not something that the apartment manager has much control over.”

Smith adds many apartment complexes don’t have the space to add receptacles.

Salt Lake City officials are asking for input on the issue online at Open City Hall

Whittney Evans grew up southern Ohio and has worked in public radio since 2005. She has a communications degree from Morehead State University in Morehead, Kentucky, where she learned the ropes of reporting, producing and hosting. Whittney moved to Utah in 2009 where she became a reporter, producer and morning host at KCPW. Her reporting ranges from the hyper-local issues affecting Salt Lake City residents, to state-wide issues of national interest. Outside of work, she enjoys playing the guitar and getting to know the breathtaking landscape of the Mountain West.
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