Saturday, March 26, 2011

Recycling Problems

Property across alley from me

A Bashir Moghul property around the corner.
Post and photos by the Hawthorne Hawkman

My first post of any substance on NXNS revolved around John Hoff finally convincing me to begin recycling, and since then I've been watching a few Hawthorne dynamics out of the corner of my eye.  One issue that I keep on seeing is nearby landlord-owned multi-family housing with the maximum number of recycling bins out back.  This is great in theory, except that often the bins are never used.  I can tell you with a relative degree of certainty that the bins pictured above have never moved from their respective spots.  That got me wondering how many other landlords were doing the same thing.  I have made a few passes through the alleys near my place and found properties owned by Robert Serr that have the same thing going on.

Just so everyone is aware, garbage isn't even collected from where these bins are placed.  There is no alley at the property and bins are out front.

Wot's this then gents?  More bins stored nowhere near the garbage/recycling pickup!
Once is an annoyance, twice is a coincidence, and three (technically four) times on three consecutive blocks starts to look like a pattern to me.  Which begs a series of questions...

...Do people get the $7 monthly discount just for having the recycling bins?  Or do they actually have to recycle?  How does the city track the use of its recycling containers?  How long can a person go without recycling before either the bin is collected or the monthly discount is removed?  If the use of the bins and the corresponding discounts were fully tracked and enforced, what kind of impact would that have on our already strained city budget?

On that last one, let's use Pamiko Properties as a hypothetical example.  Koenig at one point owned 80 or more properties in Minneapolis.  Most of them were duplexes, with a handful of single-family homes and some four- or six-unit properties thrown in.  We'll say an average of two units per property for the sake of math.  If he put bins out behind every property, that would be 160 units, at a $7.00 discount per unit, for a total of $1,120 per month, or $13,440 per year.  That would be just one landlord's savings (if Koenig were to have done this at the height of his empire).

And just to be clear regarding this issue, I don't care how good or bad a landlord is; if they or their tenants are recycling, they should get the discount, and if they've got bins but aren't using them, the city ought to take the bins away or at least remove the discount.

While I'm on the topic of recycling bins, it's time for a little Irving Inquisition-style "Jerk Du Jour."  (warning: Bad Words ahead)  The Hawkman's jerk du jour is the idiot who keeps on putting regular garbage in my recycling bin.  Neighbors have said it's someone who lives in the blue house to the south of me.  This has happened each of the last three Fridays, AFTER garbage and/or recycling has been collected.  It would be one thing if the trash bins were full to the point of overflowing, but instead some lazy ass just can't manage the Herculean effort of lifting the damned lid.

They left another bag just sitting next to the bin.  Raccoons, cats, or other scavengers have been sifting through this crud too.
I've talked to my neighbors, I've talked to my landlord, and I've talked to the property management company now in place.  Since this kept on happening, the only real solution was to take my bin back inside.  The problem with that is that the bottom of the bin now contained a congealed layer of frozen trash and cat piss, and upon thawing, this amazing new smell took over my apartment until I bleached the hell out of the bin and burned incense for several hours straight.  I consoled myself by thinking about Dante's Inferno and what these idiots might wind up doing for eternity in Hell as an ironic payback for being such assholes.

And now back to our regular programming.  When I posted these questions on my Facebook profile, I got dozens of comments about what's wrong with our recycling program here in Minneapolis.  The biggest issue my FB friends seemed to have was that the whole paper bag sorting requirement is cumbersome and actually decreases participation.  Other cities just go with big recycling bins for everything, and then it gets sorted after collection.  Why aren't we doing that here if it would encourage more folks to participate?  What other issues do folks, especially in NoMi have when it comes to recycling?


  1. Good Post!

    But, at least those Neanderthals are bagging the garbage!

    I have a Koening property behind me (or what was until it was foreclosed on)where the tenants never used bags. Needless to say last week when the snow melted it exposed a trail of trash that had fallen out when the haulers attempted to empty the containers.

    So, why don't the garbage collectors notify the city of this condition before it gets out of control and have this situation addressed? Now, I have to wait another week for the snow to melt again before I can contact 311.

  2. Agreed.

    It doesn't make sense to force an area of the City that is so crammed full of substandard rentals (where the tenants of housing will be the greatest users of non-disposable packaging and the least likely to sort out recycling) pretend to use such a carefully deliberate method of sorting.

    It defeats the entire purpose of the program.

    Why not use some of those economic development funds (currently being used to destroy foreclosed homes) to make Recycling Center sorting jobs that allow the original homesteaders to pay the mortgages.

    Maybe if the program were easier to use, the volume of recyclables would increase to a profitable level and city wouldn't have to pay people $7 a month to make the Mayor and City Council feel like responsible environmentally aware politicians.

  3. Regarding the $7 monthly credit to property owners who don't recycle: Yes, it is a problem and it's an issue I mentioned on the Mpls Forum ages ago. When I did so, I received an email from Susan Young - Director of Solid Waste and Recycling. She told me, the City is aware of this and is doing more checking to see who is actually using these bins.

    I would think it wouldn't hurt to call on some of these property owners if you think they shouldn't be receiving the credit. I've always found the Solid Waste & Recycling Dept. to be one of the most responsive in the City - hands down. You can call them direct at 673-2917. No need to call 311.

  4. We've got single source recycling out here in Lyon County and EVERYONE voluntarily participates. In Minneaplis my blue recycling bins were stolen years ago so I haven't been able to participate. Like most everything in Minneapolis, the recycling program is broken!

  5. Perhaps on every non-owner occupied property we could INCREASE the fees by $7 to make up for the benefit they've received in the past and to make up revenue from homeowners who themselves refuse to recycle yet get the $7.00 Obviously we cannot take the $7 from the homeowners as that would be regressive but it would not be bad at all to extract the fee from the rich landlords. In fact maybe theirs should be $14 since they make money off our community in NOMI.

  6. Kevin already said it, but I want to say it again:

    For trash/recycling issues, call or email Solid Waste and Recycling directly. Skip 311.

  7. Contacting Solid Waste and Recycling is great for ongoing issues - but what Anon 9:01 is referring to is a years worth of liter strewn in the driveway and alley from one rental address.

    BTW..The City of Minneapolis has no problem issuing regressive tax policies-lol.

  8. The people who work to enact recycling laws tend to be pretty passionate about recycling. In addition to the environmental benefits (which, let's face it, are negligible), there is a sense of pride that comes with the act. The more labored the act, the more pride.

    If you propose to take away the sorting mechanism, you'll find a lot of people inordinately upset.

  9. Mpls does not issue the $7 credit to non-recyclers, according to Solid Waste.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.