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Lexington aims to go 'trash-free' by 2020

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Lexington aims to go 'trash-free' by 2020: Kentucky's recycling rate currently near 28%

By Linda B. Blackford, Herald-Leader [Lexington], Jul. 01, 2007

Lexington could become trash-free by 2020. It is a radical concept in a state whose recycling rate is below the national average. In Lexington, 75% of people with recycling bins, Rosies, actually use them. The city now composes yard waste, but the residents would need to learn how to compost food waste to make the "trash-free" idea work. The city is currently exploring the idea of mixing food waste with yard waste in curbside collections.

The idea of trash-free is not new -- the Toyota manufacturing plant in Georgetown achieved zero-landfill status in 2004. It took two years of training at the mandate of then-Toyota Motor Corp. President Fujio Cho, who said he wanted all Toyota facilities to be leaders in the environmental industry. First, Toyota identified what was being thrown out and find places that it could be sold or reused. The cafeteria switched from styrofoam to paper products, and leftover food is now put into industrial underground composters that generate enough composted soil to sustain a 20-acre vegetable garden. Six of those acres grow vegetables to use in the cafeteria and to give away to local food banks; the other 14 acres are used to grow corn as a source of nitrogen in the composter to speed up the process. At Toyota, some construction waste still goes to landfills, but Toyota stopped sending 16,000 tons of trash from the plant to landfills every year. Another plant, the Subaru facility in Lafayette, Indiana, achieved zero-landfill status three years ago.

For Lexington, it is not economical to use landfills. Lexington still puts 300,000 tons of trash in landfills a year at a cost of $7.5 million. But the city also made $1 million by selling off recycled products. Paper, aluminum, and plastics are easy sellers, and glass is often grinded to a powder to use as aggregate in road paving.

The idea of 'trash-free' is used in parts of California. In 1990, 10% of the trash in the state was recycled; in 2006, that figure was 54%. in Kentucky, 111 of the 120 programs have some form of recycling, but most are very limited. On June 26, the state awarded $2.3 million to 26 recycling programs across the state, however, legislative action to mandate waste reduction across the state expired.

* 84,000 people in Fayette County use regular trash cans (Herbies)

* 60,000 people have Rosies, used for recycling, and about 75% are in use

* 50,000 people have Lennies, which are used for yard waste, which is then composted

* Lexington now puts 300,000 tons of trash in landfills, at a cost of $7.5 million a year

* Last year, however, the city made $1 million selling recyclable materials

* Kentucky's statewide rate of recycling in 2006 was 28 percent, compared to a national rate of 32 percent according to the EPA.

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It would be very interesting to see how well this project would go over and work in a city the size of Lexington. It could prove to be a model for other cities across the nation. The city's size makes the project large enough in scope that if successful it would prove to be an example other similar sized cities would be hard press to argue they could not follow (outside of potential financial reasoning). Smaller cities and good size towns would also be hard pressed to be against such proposals if a city the size of Lexington was successful at it.

If Lexington is successful I think Paducah and Murray in Western Kentucky could both follow suit. Heck Paducah followed suit and banned smoking in restaurants...which is amazing since its in the center of the historic tobacco producing region of the Purchase.

A very interesting and perhaps ground breaking project IMO.

Now with that said, has any other city the size of Lexington attempted this yet? That would could disprove or affirm my hypothesis rather quickly if so. LOL

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If this happens, coupled with the continued increase in mass transit and bike lanes it could make Lexington one of the most environmentally progressive cities in the country.

If the city can find economic benfits that would only make it better. The curbside recycling program already makesabout one million dollars per year for the city through the sale of recyclables and saves another $350K in landfill tipping costs. Not to mention the jobs it creates at the recycling center on Manchester and the men on the trucks to pick it up from the curb.

The city would save even more on compost and could possibly sell the excess to farmers or othe rlocal business or even nearby communities. Things like that would even further benefit us.

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Lexington has 3 private garbage companies that do residential pick-up. I don't think they were factored into the article.

If you take the latest Census estimates for Lexington(270,000+), then 80,000 people is less than 1/3 of the population. OK, OK There are a lot of apartments with bulk style pick-up (I even live in a complex with dumpsters), but they would only bring it up to 1/2 the population. If that 80K figure is households, then compare that with 115,000 (est.) occupied housing units for the Fayette County. It is still only about 1/2 the population and the recycling total is less than that.

The private collection services charge more for their recycling program and have been observed throwing it all in the same truck. Will they be brought on board? I don't know , the article conveniently omitted to say.

What about bulk items? The Urban County picks up appliances and some other heavy objects, but furniture and bedding or carpet(which can be compacted in the trucks) is collected and sent to the landfill.

Kitchen waste combined with yard waste was mentioned, but there are still a lot of problems there.

Education in shopping is what is needed. Don't buy items with excess packaging, or cheap plastic junk then you won't have to figure out how to discard or recycle it

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This is a good yet ambitious idea. I was shocked to find that the condo community that my girlfriend bought into in Lexington does not recycle. they only have dumpsters for trash. I always feel bad throwing things in the trash there that I would usually recycle.

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My building (Park Plaza) does not recycle, but I have been talking to LFUCG into starting a program in my building. I currently take my recyclables a few days a week to the collection at Good Foods via a standard green tote. Quick and easy. I also purchase products that have minimal or recyclable packaging, and products that are environmentally friendly (e.g. unbleached, fully recycled paper, toiletries, etc.). It's not really that hard or expensive, but many have this perception that it is, or that those who do it are hippies.

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My building (Park Plaza) does not recycle, but I have been talking to LFUCG into starting a program in my building. I currently take my recyclables a few days a week to the collection at Good Foods via a standard green tote. Quick and easy. I also purchase products that have minimal or recyclable packaging, and products that are environmentally friendly (e.g. unbleached, fully recycled paper, toiletries, etc.). It's not really that hard or expensive, but many have this perception that it is, or that those who do it are hippies.

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EZCheese just out of curiosity where did you guys end up deciding on for the condo?

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We got a great place near St. Joseph hospital. Very convenient to downtown and the UK campus, among other places. :thumbsup:

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We got a great place near St. Joseph hospital. Very convenient to downtown and the UK campus, among other places. :thumbsup:

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