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City to resume alleyway recycling collection starting May 31

CITY HALL – St. Louisans can again put their household recyclables into the city’s blue alley bins for pickup separate from trash.

The city recently had to pause its recycling pickups because of a shortage of drivers and mechanics. On Tuesday, the Streets Department announced that alleyway recycling will resume on Tuesday, May 31.

The department, in partnership with Saint Louis Recycles [], is urging residents to get up to date on best recycling practices while being aware of how much waste their household produces.

Betherny Williams

“The Refuse Division services 80,000 households across the city, and we’ve been working tirelessly to resume alleyway recycling collection for St. Louisans,” Streets Director Betherny Williams said. “Our data-driven plan will help us increase our transparency and efficiency around waste collection and recycling, and the Refuse Division will consistently monitor our routes and make adjustments where necessary. St. Louisans can all do our part by reducing the amount of waste we produce and making sure we are educated around the proper way to recycle.”

The Refuse Division reviewed the solid waste production of all of the refuse routes and found that certain routes produce more solid waste than others per month, resulting in high-yield routes and low-yield routes.

Nancy Cross

“Alleyway recycling collection is an important and critical service that our residents rely on every week and despite the challenges the city faces, we are using data to inform and improve our operations,” said Nancy Cross, the city’s Operations Director. “We worked hard to get to this point, and we ask for your patience as we work through any bumps in the road that will come along the way.”

Low-yield routes will continue to get pickups at least once a week. High-yield routes get that but also be closely monitored to determine if another pickup is necessary. The Streets Department will continue to analyze the overall refuse data on a consistent basis and will make operational adjustments as necessary, it said in a press release.

Before alleyway recycling collection, St. Louis’ recycling diversion rate was 11 percent, compared with 34 percent nationally. 

Saint Louis City Recycles and the city will be rolling out educational materials and encouraging residents to recycle correctly to help make their neighborhoods cleaner, healthier and more sustainable.

“To keep recycling in our alleys, it’s more important now more than ever to ensure that only good, clean materials are placed in your recycling dumpster,” said Elysia Musumeci, program manager for Saint Louis Recycles. “Remember to keep items loose, clean, and dry. Make sure bottles, containers, jars, and cartons are empty, do not contain food, replace any caps or lids, and most importantly, do not bag up your recycling! Plastic bags and wraps are not accepted in the Blue Bins. Be sure to take plastic bags and wraps back to your grocery or retail store.”

The national labor shortage continues to pose a challenge for hiring efforts, and the city is still working to attract drivers, currently offering a $3,000 hiring bonus. The Refuse Division has brought on nine truck drivers since the push began, but more are needed.

Roll cart collection will not be impacted by the alleyway plan at this time. However, the Memorial Day weekend will mean that residents who normally have their roll carts collected on Mondays and Thursdays will have their trash collected on Tuesday, May 31st and recyclables collected on Thursday, June 2nd. St. Louis residents can check their pickup schedule on the city’s website.

Staff is home to The NorthSider and The SouthSider weekly community newspapers. The SouthSider publishes 25,000 copies every Tuesday. The NorthSider publishes 25,000 copies every Thursday. They are distributed at over 600 locations across St. Louis.

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