Ordinance aims to clean up Lincoln's recycling sites, crack down on dumping

The Lincoln City Council took steps Monday to clean up the city's recycling collection sites by cracking down on lazy or illegal dumping. 

The council unanimously and without comment approved a proposal making it illegal to put recyclables anywhere but in the proper recycling container at one of the 19 city collection sites available to residents. 

The council also banned dumping at the site or in the recycling container anything that can't be recycled.

Over the years, the collection sites across the city have occasionally turned into sties, according to city officials. 

People have left garbage big and small at the sites, previously called recycling drop-offs until the ordinance was approved Monday to re-brand them.

People have left hot tubs, tires, beds, TVs, wood pallets and pianos, all non-recyclable materials.

Before the ordinance, the issue was an enforcement problem, city officials said. 

Many sites are hosted by private businesses, and previously, city code made that arrangement awkward, because the onus to clean up messes at the sites fell on the business hosting it, Lincoln Transportation and Utilities Assistant Director of Utilities Donna Garden told the council last month.

Some people volunteering to monitor and assist in recycling at the sites through the "Bin Buddies" program would be able to prevent that kind of littering or improper recycling, she said.

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

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