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Thank you, Lincoln and Lancaster County residents, businesses and recycling collectors. Together, you made April a historic recycling month in our community. With clean and dry corrugated cardboard no longer accepted at our landfill, you recycled it at record levels:

* The amount of cardboard deposited at the city drop-off sites in April totaled about 428,000 pounds, an increase of 93 percent over April of 2017!

* Recycling collectors are seeing hundreds of new customers to help offset their increased costs.

* A dozen businesses have already applied for the Recycle Lincoln Leadership Recognition Program, and 45 business have applied for rebates through the Waste Reduction and Recycling Assistance Program (WRRAP).

Since the City Council passed the cardboard ban, the city’s goal has been to help both households and businesses comply with the new law and overcome the barriers to recycling. The city is also counting on the community to help Public Works and Utilities efficiently and effectively manage the very different needs of households and businesses.

Households can either subscribe to a curbside service or take their cardboard to one of 32 public recycling drop-off sites. To keep operations running smoothly at the drop-off sites, residents are encouraged to take the following steps:

• Flatten boxes and remove packing material and Styrofoam.

• Fill bins from the back to the front, and check all slots and bins if one appears full.

• Report sites in need of collection service to 402-441-8215 or recycle@lincoln.ne.gov.

• If a container or bin is full, visit an alternate site or come back another time.

An issue has come up regarding the use of the public drop-off sites by businesses.  It’s important to note that the drop-off sites are sized for household use and are important for low-income residents.  Instead, businesses should subscribe to a recycling collection service tailored to their needs or haul their recyclables to one of three recycling processers. 

Free consulting and other assistance is available through the city to help businesses set up or expand recycling programs, and the WRRAP provides rebates of up to $750 to businesses to help cover startup costs.

We have learned a great deal from the first month of experience, and the Recycling Office knows you have questions. Change is challenging, especially a change that impacts every person in our community. There was also a learning curve when the city banned yard waste, tires and other materials from the landfill. Like before, Lincoln residents and businesses are stepping up and getting the job done.

Residents are again proving that they believe in conserving resources and protecting our environment. Keeping hundreds of tons of cardboard -- a commodity valued by processers -- out of our landfill is another important step for our community as we move toward a cleaner, greener future.

Donna Garden is assistant director of utilities for the Lincoln Public Works and Utilities Department.

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