- Phoenix's Public Works Department has begun placing eight "ECO Stations" in council districts throughout the city to expand recycling access for city-owned parks and multi-family apartment buildings, as reported by the Ahwatukee Foothills News.
- The roll-off bins are wrapped with messaging on the top 10 recyclable items accepted by the city. The bins also include a list of items that aren't accepted, such as plastic film products, used electronics, textiles, furniture, refuse, organics or yard waste.
- City staff will regularly monitor the stations to limit contamination or illegal dumping. Phoenix estimates that recycling contamination costs the city about $1 million per year.
This is the latest idea aimed at achieving the Reimagine Phoenix program's goal of 40% diversion by 2020. Earlier this year, the city partnered with Recyclebank to expand their recycling rewards program citywide and launched a "hackathon" to solicit new ideas from developers. The city has also begun introducing curbside organics collection and a "Save-As-You-Reduce-and-Recycle" program.
These programs may all make a difference, but because the city isn't required to provide collection services for multi-family buildings and apartment complexes, those residents offer additional untapped potential. Other large cities such as Chicago and Toronto have also begun paying more attention to the material in these buildings as a way to increase diversion rates and capture more value from recyclables.
Outdoor roll-off bins might not work in colder climates, but that shouldn't be a problem in Phoenix where residents can access them year-round. Clear messaging and regular monitoring may also help avoid some of the contamination issues often experienced at drop-off sites. Residents in some cities have even been shown to prefer drop-off to curbside collection, so if this can become a regular part of people's routines these new bins may help make a difference in Phoenix too.