Louisville Metro Government is rolling out a new voluntary program in the city’s Central Business District to try to increase recycling rates. ‘Wet-dry recycling’ is meant to make the process of recycling easier and more automatic for residents and businesses.
Here’s the way recycling works in most places: you have a special bin for cans or paper or bottles. Every time you go to throw something away, you have a choice to make: is it recyclable or not?
Wet-dry recycling is a little bit different. Whether or not the trash is recyclable isn’t up to you, anymore. Residents and businesses in the Central Business District (defined as roughly between 15th Street and Hancock Street and north of Broadway) now have two colors of garbage bags. The black bags line the cans in kitchens, break rooms and bathrooms…places where there’s usually a lot of “wet” waste. The clear bags go everywhere else. At the end of the week, all the bags go in the same garbage can.
Public Works spokesman Harold Adams says the idea is that separating the wet and dry garbage keeps the legitimately recyclable materials from being contaminated.
“Close to 90 percent of that dry waste is, in fact, recyclable,” he says. “So if you keep it from being contaminated from the wet waste, you can easily divert the dry waste.”
Restaurants in the area have also been provided with special cans for composting food waste, which will be emptied several times a week. The program doesn’t cost Central Business District residents any extra; it’s being paid for with the money Metro Government saves from sending less waste to the landfill.
Adams estimates only 11 percent of the waste collected in the city’s center is recycled right now, and the new program could mean as much as 85 percent of it could be kept out of the landfill. And he says if the pilot program is a success, it could be implemented in other areas of the city. Louisville’s sustainability plan calls for diverting half of the city’s solid waste away from the landfill by 2025; the goal is to increase that number to 90 percent by 2042.