Schenectady recycling rate needs a pick up
Feb. 21--SCHENECTADY -- Three years ago, Schenectady's recycling buzzword was "Recyclution."
Now, city leaders are banking on the slogan "It Starts With Me" as they prepare to launch another ambitious awareness campaign to persuade more residents to recycle.
"Some people are doing great, some people are not doing it at all," said Carl Olsen, the city's general services commissioner.
He said about 15 percent of residents sort their paper and plastic recyclables.
The percentage has trended downward over the decades since the municipality started its recycling effort in 1992.
Back then, one in four property owners in Schenectady was recycling, Olsen said.
He and other city officials are hoping the yearlong campaign will save the cash-strapped city some money and reduce Schenectady's ecological footprint.
"We need to remind people that it's best for not only the environment but for the cost," said Olsen.
He said about six specially equipped trucks pick up recyclables daily -- mostly glass, cans, yard waste and electronics.
All told, there are 17,000 single, two- and three-family homes plus nonprofit agencies and businesses that could recycle.
The city pays $70 a ton to dispose of garbage but receives $15 a ton for recyclables.
If each location diverted a pound from its garbage to recyclables, that would mean 8 1/2 fewer tons of garbage per week, for a savings of about $37,570 a year, Olsen said.
Mayor Gary McCarthy said his administration plans to spread the recycling message through the local cable access television station, contacting neighborhood groups and making presentations to schoolchildren.
McCarthy said the push to get the community to recycle is part of an overall effort to improve the quality of life in the city and get residents to follow city laws, including licensing their dogs, shoveling their driveways and paying required fees for home improvement projects.
Andrew Pirrone, 53, who lives with his mother on Lenox Avenue, told a reporter on Wednesday that he mostly recycles newspapers.
He said the dental office where he is employed recycles, so he takes his plastic bottles and aluminum cans to his workplace.
"I do recycle as much as I can," he said.
Yvette Perkins said she recycled when she owned her home in Schenectady in 1996. She now rents.
"I don't really think about it especially as a renter," said Perkins, who has been in Schenectady since 1988. "I'm sure as a renter if those were provided, those different receptacles, more people would recycle."
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