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Cities continue to seek creative solutions for illegal dumping
Cities across the country continue to battle the problem of illegal dumping with new programs and technology, from camera upgrades and stepped-up enforcement to art exhibits highlighting how dumping affects communities.
Officials in Amarillo, Texas, said its camera system implemented to catch litterers has been successful enough that it will install five more cameras in other dumping "hot spots." The Amarillo Public Works Department told local station KDFA the city already has two cameras that have helped it write 14 citations since the beginning of the year. Last year, the department responded to about 5,600 illegal dumping work orders, but this year it's closer to 6,600. The increase is likely because more residents are reporting dumping activity, not because there is more dumping, Public Works Department director Donny Hooper told KDFA.
Other cities have recently formalized community cleanup events into task forces meant to generate longer-lasting litter mitigation solutions and save money on disposal. Marion County, Florida, announced its new task force will convene in September, according to station WCJB. It costs about $500,000 each year for the county to organize regular volunteer trash pickup events, County Commissioner Craig Curry told the station.
Meanwhile, the illegal dumping task force in Monterey County, California, says it needs fresh ideas to combat persistent dumping issues, which haven't let up despite the introduction of several new local programs, such as vouchers for free bulky item disposal. The group is proposing to add pop-up dumpsters throughout the region, but in the meantime, county officials and the waste management authority recently signed a three-year, $750,000 contract with local landscaping company Smith & Enright Landscaping to collect items like tires and appliances from roadsides and rural areas, the Monterey County Weekly reported.
An artist in Camden, New Jersey, has turned his frustration with illegal dumping into art. Photographer Erik James Montgomery's recent exhibit "Camden Reframed" invites viewers to wander through piles of old tires and other trash to view his photographs of residents posing next to illegal dumping sites around the city. "When you're not looking for something, you don't see it, but when you do start looking for it, it's going to be everywhere," Montgomery said in an interview with TAP into Camden.
More updates from around the country:
Waste Management said "unprecedented labor shortages" have caused trash pickup delays in some areas of Columbia, South Carolina, causing some residents to complain of overflowing dumpsters. Many other cities are experiencing similar delays because of a lack of qualified drivers. (WACH)
Aspen, Colorado, may mandate that residents participate in a food composting program and require developers to divert construction materials from the landfill. Aspen's city council said voluntary climate and waste reduction programs won't be enough to achieve the city's climate goals. (The Aspen Times)
Flint, Michigan, has approved a temporary $1.4 million contract extension with Republic Services until Sept. 30. The city and hauler's relationship had been up in the air after Republic's longtime contract expired last week and Flint's city council initially turned down the proposed 90-day extension. (MLive)
Rock Island County, Illinois, will discontinue drop-off recycling in September, citing a "dramatic drop" in solid waste due to business closures during the COVID-19 pandemic. Curbside recycling collection will continue. (Quad-City Times)
Ocean City, Maryland, has approved a compost pilot program that will collect food waste from area restaurants and compost it locally instead of sending it to the nearby Covanta waste-to-energy incinerator. (The Dispatch)
- Residents vexed by litter from a 74-year-old landfill in Williamstown, Massachusetts, organized a community cleanup fora portion of the Green River. The long-defunct landfill, which opened in 1947 and closed in 1960, is on the riverbank and has been spilling items such as old car parts and radiators into the water. (Berkshire Eagle)