Berkeley Gets New Recycling Bins

By Matt Baume
|  Thursday, Oct 28, 2010  |  Updated 3:00 AM PDT
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Berkeley Gets New Recycling Bins

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A truck drops off a load of recyclables.

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The greenest city on the planet just got a little bluer.

For unknown reasons, Berkeley's recycling carts have for years not been carts at all, but instead tiny little buckets. That's all changed with the arrival of posh new rolling carts.

The new carts hold 64 gallons of plastic, paper, and metal, and larger versions go up to 96 gallons. It'll cost the city nearly $3 million to complete the change-out by the end of the month.

A particularly fraught consideration with the new carts is the issue of poaching. Some residents have complained about scavengers who roam the city, picking recyclables out of carts to redeem.

As waste-management rates increase, many residents have grown resentful of the free bounty harvested by the poachers. The new bins have a closed top that some hope will deter thieves, who have been blamed for making a mess of refuse.

So far, it seems to be working, even though the cart-swap is still in progress. That's borne out by successes with similar carts in other cities. But residents are skeptical, with many claiming that the carts are awkward, ugly, or will encourage poachers to dump the contents on the street.

The real problem may be the city's reluctance to cite poachers. Only about two dozen citations have been issued in the last two years.

As for the old bins, they're slated to get a fitting end: they'll be recycled.

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