We’ve got a little over a week until the 2018 Resource Recycling Conference kicks off in St. Louis. To preview the event, we’re offering a series of profiles of different recycling stakeholders who will be offering expert perspective from the stage.
This week we chat with Kanika Greenlee, executive director of the Keep Atlanta Beautiful Commission and environmental programs director at the Atlanta Department of Public Works. She worked on a project that used outreach staff and a mobile app to successfully clean up the recycling stream.
Greenlee will speak during the conference’s first plenary session, which is focused on fighting contamination and is organized by The Recycling Partnership.
What is Atlanta doing to reduce contamination, and how does your work play into it?
Atlanta received grant funding and technical assistance from The Recycling Partnership to conduct a pilot project to reduce contamination in our curbside recycling program. The project was called “Feet on the Street.” As the environmental programs director for the Department of Public Works, I am tasked with making sure that we have a thriving curbside recycling program in order to meet our city’s zero waste goals.
Can you tell us a little more about the Feet on the Street Campaign and its results?
The campaign was a 7-week educational outreach program implemented on four recycling routes. One of the main goals was to decrease contamination by overall weight/volume/specific items. A team of city of Atlanta staff and temporary employees went out in the early morning before the trucks ran their routes. Each recycling bin was inspected and deemed contaminated or acceptable. Any bin that was deemed contaminated was logged as contaminated, and the logging specified the type of contamination as well as the address. Then the bin was tagged with an “Oops” tag, which indicated the type of contamination for the resident and informed them that any recycling bin with an “Oops” tag would be left untipped until the contamination was corrected.
Greenlee will outline a pilot project that reduced contamination on select routes in Atlanta by 57 percent.
We used technology created by Rubicon to document the information gathered. This is a simple app-based program already used by the truck drivers. It allows us to select the address, the type of contamination and take a picture. This gives us the ability to instantly log data and get a more comprehensive look into the data and analytics that result from this data.
The results were an overall capture rate that was up 27 percent, overall contamination down 57 percent, and overall bagged recyclables – bags are a top contaminant – down 62 percent.
Why should municipal program managers make sure to catch your presentation?
I will go over the plan and the execution of that plan to reduce contamination. With a few basic tools and steps, this program could be replicated in any community.
Greenlee will be speaking on the “Kicking Contamination Out” plenary, to be held 10:45 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 23. The workshop-style session, which is organized by The Recycling Partnership, will also include presentations from Kate Davenport of Eureka Recycling; Jesse Duarte of the city of Phoenix; and Greg Gachowsky of the Washington State Department of Ecology.
See more details on the full conference session schedule online.