IF YOU CAN'T recycle right, then we're taking away your bins. That's the new policy over at the University Village Shopping Center, where tenants were informed in a March 13 memo that the center's mixed-paper recycling had been discontinued due to "cost considerations." For the past three weeks, some Barnes & Noble employees who can't bear to dump the store's daily cartloads of waste paper into the trash have been carrying it away in their cars. They're pretty miffed. "We really shouldn't have to take the paper home to recycle," one told Seattle Weekly.
U Village also stopped recycling glass and plastic a few months back. Now stores can only recycle cardboard—which U Village management says is the bulk of what retailers throw away.
U Village's marketing director, Myra Gose, says that the shopping center had to discontinue recycling because its carrier, Emerald City Disposal, wanted to charge too much. Gose adds that U Village hopes to restore mixed-paper recycling when it finds a system that's feasible.
Gose's explanation makes little sense, however, because the cost of recycling is far less than for garbage pickup. Does the move to end recycling have more to do with management transferring disposal costs to tenants? Under the new system, stores have to pay a fee each time they dump trash in one of the center's garbage dumpsters, and, of course, now there's more to throw away.
Emerald City Disposal's Bruce Bentley says the real culprit is bad recycling habits. The bins were getting spoiled with food, sticky tape, and other contaminants that were forcing Emerald City to charge U Village more to dump them, he says. So U Village decided to take the bins away and consult with the Seattle Chamber of Commerce about sponsoring recycling education seminars for the center's tenants. "They said, 'We need to get control of this.' It was helter-skelter out there," says Bentley. According to Bentley, U Village wants to bring recycling back when tenants learn to use the system more responsibly.