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Can curbside recycling one day resume?

August 8, 2018

It’s reminiscent of the old adage “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink.’’

Kankakee residents have had curbside recycling for several years, but on Monday, it was announced by city waste hauler Republic Services the program would end effective Sept. 1 because too many people are throwing nonrecyclable items into their recycling bins.

To emphasize the point, a Republic Services official said up to 85 percent of the 584 tons of recyclable waste produced in Kankakee is rejected by recycling centers because it contains excessive amounts of household waste.

Once September rolls around, each of the city’s seven wards will have a large, central container for residents to bring their recyclables. This is not as convenient as the curbside option and promises to bring an increase in garbage fees because more waste will go to landfills.

Now residents can quibble with the change. It can be argued since they pay for the service, the waste hauler can worry about rinsing out empty milk jugs. Furthermore, can’t a warning be issued to give residents time to be more compliant before ending the program?

But the problem goes deeper. Items that have no place in a recycling bin, things such as diapers, yard waste and even propane tanks, have landed there.

Mayor Chasity Wells-Armstrong said this of the situation: “We definitely need more education. ... There will be some adjustments.”

There does need to be. Curbside recycling is valuable, and a community is better off when it exists.

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