The below article was written by Momentum Recycling “Amglassador” Ryan Goforth:
Increasing Recycling in Salt Lake City
A new Salt Lake City ordinance that passed on December 8th, 2015 is requiring businesses and multi-family complexes that produce 4 or more cubic yards of waste per week to recycle.
The reason for the ordinance is that businesses and multi-family residences produce half of all waste in Salt Lake City but only recycle 10-15% of that waste. This ordinance capitalizes on a huge opportunity to reduce the amount of waste in our landfills and recover important resources that would otherwise have to be mined from the Earth. Once the ordinance was enacted, waste haulers had 6 months to become authorized, while business and multi-family complexes will have 2 years to start recycling. After those 2 years when recycling among these businesses and residences becomes widespread, it is estimated that more than 20,000 tons of recyclable material will be kept out of Salt Lake landfills. This will help to increase the life of an already stressed system of landfills across the valley.
The ordinance states that these recycling services must be easy to access for customers and tenants so as to make sure that landlords and businesses cannot circumvent the ordinance. However, commercial properties without enough space for a bin can request to be reasonably excluded.
Certain representative groups for commercial properties are concerned about the ordinance and feel that it will put stress on their budget by forcing them to make renovations to their properties, costing them money. Another reason that commercial properties might not be inclined to recycle is because trash disposal rates are very low for Salt Lake City. Low waste disposal costs incentivize people to send more to the landfill rather than to recycle.
However, the long-term savings of increasing recycling would eventually make up for any short-term costs that might incur. Even though tipping fees are relatively cheap currently, they do add up over time, especially with a large amount of waste. When commercial properties are required to recycle, they will send less to the landfill and so be charged less in the long run.
This ordinance is a positive step in the right direction toward creating a more sustainable city and making Salt Lake a more appealing place to live. I hope that in the future Salt Lake will continue to be a champion for recycling and continue the move toward zero waste!