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Editorial: Falling short on recycling in Buffalo

Buffalo residents should recycle – more.

Recycling is good for the environment, cutting down on air and water pollution and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. It’s good for the city’s bottom line as it cuts down on disposal costs. It’s good for businesses and residents who may be able to argue for lower garbage user fees. Nevertheless, the city’s recycling rate – 28.36 percent of its waste stream – falls far short of the national rate of 34 percent.

Lowering user fees may be a reach but Mayor Byron W. Brown did float that prospect back in 2015, when attempting to entice the city into more recycling. Recycling ticked up, but not enough. Now the mayor and city officials have hit the refresh button.

The city is launching a series of useful programs, including a pilot program to recycle food scraps and a block club competition. The effort is aimed at increasing the amount of waste that is not dumped into the landfill.

Here is the motivation – if any is needed – to cooperate: For the first time since Brown has been in office, in 12 years, the garbage user fee will increase: from 11 percent to 40 percent, depending on the size of the tote. The increase starts when the new fiscal year begins, July 1.

Brown once touted that the city could reduce the garbage user fee if recycling rates increased. It didn’t happen – at least, not enough. The administration has not specified the rate recycling would have to reach for the fee to be lowered, but for those who haven’t committed already, it is time to get started. It isn’t hard.

Recycling efforts have been underway for decades. By now, it should be second nature and with so many items that can be consolidated, not as mystifying as it was years ago when people struggled to figure out exactly what was allowed and how it all had to be separated. Now those boxes take more and what is accepted is made clear.

Residents should know about recent programs, which have included a free shredding event, clothing recycling and bike donation drive and the city’s Food Scraps Recycling two-month pilot program along with the Massachusetts Avenue Project. Electronics recycling is also available.

Neighbors should already have signed up for the “Let’s Do This” block club recycling competition. The city should continue to look for ways to encourage this necessary effort and residents should join in, for the good of the environment, the city and themselves.

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