Our block today enters the Fancy-Ass Recycling Cart Era. Last week, the recycling pickup crews came around and picked up the chaff the recycling poachers had left behind, and they also distributed these nice baby blue “split carts” that are apparently 1) supposed to make it harder for the recycling poachers to grab the more lucrative materials and run off with them and 2) designed to make recycling here a more efficient and tasteful enterprise.
As to the first point, it’s obvious that all a determined poacher needs to do is flip up the lid of the container and start digging around in the “cans and bottles” side of the cart to find what they’re looking for. Those who are not content to rummage around like that can also resort to just tipping the cart over and dumping out the contents. That would be aggressive, but these folks are in it for the money, not recreation. In my late walk with The Dog last night, I didn’t see any turned-over carts; but I did come across one person bent over one of the carts, pawing through the contents.
Unknown: How the recycling upgrade will pencil out for the city financially (I’ve found one reference that suggest the price tag for the carts is $2.7 million–31,000 carts at $90 each), which I believe also includes special trucks that can divide the paper/cardboard and metal/glass/plastic components of the recycling stream. It’s also unclear to me whether the city or its recycling contractor will spend more on workers to sort what’s the material the trucks pick up. I’m sure the argument has been made that any extra costs will be at least partially defrayed by additional revenue the city realizes through its increased share of recyling proceeds (the poachers divert a lot of the potential cash now).
Live On-the-Scene Update (10:45 a.m.): Although I resorted to a tried and occasionally effective strategy of not putting the recycling out until after 7 a.m.–that increases the chances the city contractor, the Ecology Center, will pick up the stuff instead of the poachers–a pirate arrived and cleaned just about all of the bottles and cans in the cart. Looked like the same had happened up and down our block. So the next question will be: how much do the new carts actually affect the amount of recycling picked up by the contractor.