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Louisville Budget Protects Weekly Recycling, But Nixes Another Popular Program

aluminum cans recycling
Aluminum cans recycling at WestRock.

The Louisville Metro Council Budget Committee decided Thursday night to keep weekly recycling and yard waste disposal after mulling over a decision to limit pickup to every other week.

In order to save weekly recycling in Louisville’s urban services district, the Budget Committee chose to terminate the contract for a different, highly successful program known as wet/dry recycling. The budget proposal goes before the full council on Tuesday.

Residents and council members have said bi-weekly pickup would lead to more litter in neighborhood alleys and streets.

Budget Chair Bill Hollander said there are costs in every cut and it became a choice between wet/dry recycling and ending weekly recycling in Louisville neighborhoods.

The wet/dry program increased recycling from 11 to 80 percent in the city’s Central Business District in its first year alone. Without it, more recycling will end up in the landfill.

“There are costs in every one of these cuts. It really became a choice between that or ending weekly recycling throughout the entire community,” Hollander said.

And it’s not over, either. Hollander said weekly recycling could be on the chopping block next year too. The problem, he said, is that pension expenses will continue to mount without increased revenue.

“This is a multi-year problem, this pension bill will rise again next year and the year after that,” he said.

News that weekly recycling is safe for now was a relief for Sarah Lynn Cunningham, who serves on the Louisville Waste Management District Advisory Committee.

Cunningham said the small, orange recycling bins are not big enough to handle the excess recycling. The city's larger carts are, but she said they're $55 a piece and currently on back-order until July.

“I’m told that going to every other week, it would be fine, but I would say 'show us the data, and let’s get bigger containers,' but since we haven’t done that I think it’s a really good idea that we get to keep weekly recycling and yard waste pickups," she said.

Ryan Van Velzer is WFPL's Energy and Environment Reporter. Email Ryan at rvanvelzer@lpm.org.