The Ottumwa Courier

October 17, 2013

Fill 'er up

By MARK NEWMAN
Courier staff writer

---- — OTTUMWA — In business class, the instructor discusses changes when grocery stores put in bigger shopping carts — shoppers bought more groceries. Will the same thing work for recycling?

"They have tried it in other places and what they found is, if you provide folks with a bigger cart, they tend to fill it up," said recycling coordinator Janice Bain at the Ottumwa Wapello Recycling Center.

The center is going to try an experiment, or "pilot program." The plan involves giving about 200 families larger recycling bins: 35 gallons, almost as big as a full-sized trash can.

"We've been designated as an Iowa DNR environmental management system," Bain said.

That means community officials have agreed to do more for the environment. Recycling is one of six areas an agency must work on. That can mean more money for the department.

That's a good reason to try the program, but what does it matter how much a town recycles? There's actually a few reasons, Bain said. It does reduce the amount of space needed in our finite landfills. And the more recycling the center does, the more the center can sell, leading to a more self-sufficient agency.

"But to me, most importantly, the more we recycle, the less energy we expend mining the raw materials and starting from scratch," Bain said.

To make this work, she said, the agency is attempting to recruit residents who want to participate. They've chosen one area to recruit first: The area is a residential route collected on Wednesdays between Church and Mary streets. The department has now sent out "letters of invitation" and is hoping for a positive response.

They also needed support from Bridge City Sanitation.

"Picking up bigger [recycling carts] is not part of their contract," said Bain. "They are willing to do it. I'm really glad."

Doing the experiment in only one area is the best way to figure out whether it works, Bain said. She added that she'd feel good to see a 10 percent increase.

For information, call the recycling center at 683-0685.

— To see reporter Mark Newman's Twitter feed, go to @couriermark