Niagara Gazette — Let’s face it, Niagara Falls residents have a long, long way to go when it comes to recycling.
According to the news organization Investigative Post, Niagara Falls has a recycling rate of 4 percent — the absolute worst in Western New York.
That’s just not acceptable in this day and age.
With a rating like that, there’s no question that the city council’s approval of $58,558 in casino cash for the implementation of the Sanitation Waste Education Enforcement Team — or SWEET for short — is money well spent.
The new initiative will educate city residents on waste and recycling ordinances and best practices and then enforcing those ordinances as the city rolls out changes in its waste and recycling program brought on by the newly approved refuse contract with Modern Corp.
If the city’s going to be getting the fancy new recycling totes, residents sure better know what to put in them — and don’t forget, the better city residents recycle, the better it’ll be for the city, especially financially.
While Niagara Falls pays Modern for each ton of waste disposed, the company refunds the city money for each ton of recycling it collects.
The money allocated for the SWEET program will pay for three part-time employees, the use of vehicles by those employees, office supplies, cell phones and service and educational advertising, according to the resolution passed by the council.
The program employees, two ordinance enforcers and a clerk, will work to track and record the recycling habits of residences and businesses and perform face-to-face outreach, knocking on doors to reinforce education efforts.
Mayor Paul Dyster said the goal of the pilot program is to make the transition to the new system as smooth as possible.
“What we’re trying to do here is minimize the impact for both businesses and residents,” he said. “But, it is the case that in order to create a greener city, also in order to create the savings that we envision going forward, both individual residences and business are going to have to change what they’re doing.”
We couldn’t agree more.
We also agree with city council members who want City Administrator Donna Owens to persistently and aggressively pursue the education and enforcement efforts with the SWEET program.
Owens said Tuesday enforcement will be key to the success of the program.
“We’re on top of this,” she said.
We certainly hope so — the city has a long way to go from its place at the bottom.