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Editorial: Let's work to maximize the benefits from Omaha's recycling program

Editorial: Let's work to maximize the benefits from Omaha's recycling program

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The new covered 96-gallon carts for trash and recycling. The recycling carts replace the 18-gallon green bins that had been used for Omaha’s curbside recycling.

On Monday, the city’s upcoming solid waste collection provider, FCC Environmental Services, will begin delivering two 96-gallon covered carts to Omaha residences.

Omaha’s launch of new trash and recycling carts opens up a promising new possibility — an opportunity to greatly boost the volume of material we recycle. Let’s make the most of this chance for progress for our community.

Raleigh, North Carolina — a city of Omaha’s same general size — increased its recycling volume by 56% over four years after making a similar switch, The World-Herald reported. The increase achieved in Sarasota, Florida: some 70%.

Omaha surely can join such cities in lifting its recycling efforts to a higher level. With the new bins and collection contract, our city ought to be able to save nearly 10,000 tons of materials for recycling instead of sending, the nonprofit Recycling Partnership estimates. That’s a worthy goal for our community.

Some Omahans are taking things a step further. They’ve found that they can divert a surprisingly high volume of plastic items — candy wrappers, potato chip bags, grocery bags, Styrofoam coffee cups — by using special orange Hefty Energy bags.

The Omaha metro area is one of the few in the country where residents can discard those hard-to-recycle plastics in their curbside recycling by using orange Hefty Energy bags.

FCC, the new contractor, has obligations to make the collection system work, as do Omaha households. FCC missed around 7,500 collections in its first three days last week, and the contractor is making changes to provide appropriate service.

At the same time, Omahans must do their part to help out. Space the carts at least 3 feet from one another. Don’t contaminate the recyclables with trash. Don’t pack the bins so tightly the material can’t be quickly emptied.

Through a strong public effort, Omahans can strengthen environmental sustainability and boost community pride. Let’s seize the moment.

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