NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y. (WIVB) — The city of Niagara Falls is working to clean its streets and alleys of trash left behind by residents and the region’s harsh winter.
And they’re doing so under the direction of a new program intended to reduce refuse, and improve the city’s dismal recycling rate.
“It’s a mind shift of how we can manage and control our waste and what we’re disposing of because all of it costs,” said Niagara Falls City Administrator Donna Owens. “At the end of the day, you have to pay for everything that you dispose of.”
The program, adopted in August, requires residents to use large bins for recycling and regular trash. Before last summer, trash would be simply bagged or left by the curb, exposed to animals and the elements.
“We had things where people were able to just put it out any kind of way. We weren’t enforcing it as much as we should have,” Owens said. “We weren’t educating as much as we should have, too.”
But the program comes at a cost as well; improved but not total compliance among residents. And not everyone’s buying in, especially those with their own systems.
“To me it is confusing,” said Marie Cimino. “I just like the old fashioned way, you just throw everything in the garbage and that’s it.”
Still, throughout most of the city, progress is being made. And it’s becoming evident as piles of snow give way to sidewalks and grass.
“The way that trash is right down there, it was everywhere, all through here,” said Joseph Streeter, pointing to an alley that runs along the rear of his property. “So, it wasn’t a good look at all. It makes the neighborhood look even worse. It’s not that great of a neighborhood, but it’s home, still. And we want it to look good.”
Those who refuse to confirm to the city’s new rules are finding code enforcement taking a hard line on repeat offenders. And those efforts are ramping up as the season warms up.
“What we’re seeing now is we’re going through the alleys and got some broken up garbage bags that the residents have to get out there and clean up,” said Public Works Director John Caso. “And if not, we’re going to be out there, knocking on your door and issuing you a citation to do so.”
Owens said the city’s recycling rate has improved. What was just four percent before the program started last year has grown to nearly 14 percent — and growing, Owens said.
By comparison, the city of Buffalo’s recycling rate was 23 percent in 2014, more than 10 percent lower than the national average of 34.5 percent.
Niagara Falls is launching a series of events intended to clean up the city. From April 6 through May 8, trash hauler Modern Corp., will resume scheduled bulk pick-ups that coincide with residents’ weekly garbage day. Collection is limited to six items per week. The city’s upcoming e-waste recycling (for computers, televisions, etc.) take place April 9 and 23, May 14 and 28 and June 11 and 25.
The annual Beautify Niagara program takes place May 2. More information can be found by calling ReNU Niagara (716) 205-0287.