Lincoln aims to bar dumping at recycling sites through new ordinance, renaming

Lincoln would rename its public recycling sites and add a ban on dumping or improperly recycling at the collection points under a proposal the City Council considered Monday.

The proposal would make it illegal to put recyclables anywhere but in the proper recycling container at one of the 19 city collection sites available to residents. 

It would also ban dumping at the site or in the recycling container anything that can't be recycled.

The issue is compounded by difficulty in enforcing the law, city officials said. 

Many sites are hosted by private businesses, and current city code makes that arrangement awkward, because the onus to clean up messes at the sites falls on the business hosting it, Lincoln Transportation and Utilities Assistant Director of Utilities Donna Garden said. 

The sites collect more than 7,000 tons of recyclable materials a year, according to the city.

But some people have dumped concrete, oil, pianos, tires, hot tubs and other garbage at the sites, she said. 

In the last fiscal year, the city has found 529 bags of trash, 187 bags of yard waste, 143 gallons of paint, 110 quarts of oil, 238 pieces of furniture or mattresses, 170 pallets and 101 appliances or electronics at the recycling sites, she said.

"I know I’ve had a hard time getting rid of one of those big TVs too, but it doesn't belong at a recycle site,” Garden said.

As part of the ordinance, the sites would be renamed collection sites and not called drop-offs to address this misconception, she said. 

City Councilman Bennie Shobe questioned whether the ordinance could be enforced. 

Garden said the sites are active. Some people volunteering to monitor and assist in recycling at the sites through the "Bin Buddies" program would be able to prevent this, she said. 

Already, city official ask people who see illegal dumping in the city to call the non-emergency Lincoln police line, 402-441-6000.


The ordinance change would apply to recycling processing centers, salvage operations, or commercial composting operations, and any violators would face up to a $500 fine for the city misdemeanor offense. 

The council won't vote on the proposal until its Jan. 6 meeting.