Four Asheville neighborhoods tapped for waste reduction pilot program

The City of Asheville is examining new possibilities to increase consumer recycling and affect waste reduction within the city, and is drawing on community members in four Asheville neighborhoods for assistance.

As part of the “HowLowCanAvlGo” campaign, the city, in conjunction with Curbside Management, is conducting a waste reduction pilot program in neighborhoods on the north, south, east and west sides of Asheville. Residents in those neighborhoods will receive new blue 95-gallon carts to use for recycling all goods currently handled by Curbside management.

“Everything they normally put in their bins, they now will put in this cart,” says City of Asheville Solid Waste Manager Wendy Simmons. “And they don’t have to sort it.”

The pilot program is a next step in determining the best way to encourage and incentivize recycling and reducing the amount of waste that ends up in the landfill. The carts will make it even easier to recycle while providing residents with more available volume for recyclable goods. Click here to see the materials currently recycled in the City of Asheville.

The barrels are being distributed to 770 residences in Norwood Park, Burton Street, Parkway Forest and Park Avenue/The Views neighborhoods. These neighborhoods, explains Simmons, were chosen in order to create as diverse a sample group as possible that is representative of the city at large.

The pilot program will last three months, during which time, the City of Asheville and Curbside Management will weigh how much recycling and trash is generated and compare that number to weights collected prior to the distribution of the carts. Curbside Management will also collect data on sorting and handling the recycling to determine the feasibility of expanding the program city-wide.

“It gives us an opportunity to review challenges we might have, such as topography and accessibility,” says Public Works Director Cathy Ball. “And to figure out how to address those challenges.”

The pilot program, says Simmons, is truly a community effort that draws on the organization and participation already present in the selected neighborhoods. Getting the word out about the program to everyone in a community is a challenging prospect, but already several neighborhood association members have stepped forward to help distribute information and get their neighbors on board.

“That’s actually one of the most exciting parts of this for me,” Simmons says. “Block leaders stepped up and said they will deliver our brochures and surveys. It’s great to get that buy in at that level.”

Parkway Forest Neighborhood Association President Barbara Buchanan says that news of the pilot program in her neighborhood resulted in the largest turnout of any association meeting. Parkway Forest uses block leaders to distribute newsletters by hand, and they were able to use the same technique getting information out about the recycling effort.

“We’re very pleased the city picked Parkway Forest for the program,” Buchanan says. “We pretty well covered the whole neighborhood.”

The surveys, provided to everyone participating in the program and made available online, will give additional useful data, as will follow up meetings with associations.

”We’re trying to provide all the means we can for people to get feedback to us,” says Ball. “We really can’t do it without their participation.”

The Waste Reduction Pilot Program is being coordinated across multiple City of Asheville divisions, including Sanitation, the Office of Sustainability and Community Relations. Click here for more information on the pilot program and the City of Asheville’s recycling initiative.