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A Better Neighborhood Cleanup
After more than 25 years in operation, the Neighborhood Cleanup (NCU) program was ready for an upgrade to better meet the needs of all Salt Lake City residents. Our focus in the redesign was to create a program that would offer an equitable, accessible and convenient bulk item(s) collection service for all Salt Lake City residents.
While Neighborhood Cleanup served some of us well for many years, it was no longer meeting our environmental or community needs. In addition to the public input, we faced additional considerations for changing the program.
- Storm water is any runoff that makes its way down a traditional storm drain or gutter. Unlike household and institutional wastewater, storm water is NOT treated. Everything that goes in the gutter has the potential to end up in our local rivers and streams.
- Under Neighborhood Cleanup, the guidelines on accepted items for collection, as well as the 5-day set-out time, were often violated. This meant that piles routinely sat and grew on streets for days and sometimes weeks. They contained loose trash of all types, electronic waste and household hazardous waste, organic waste, and more.
- These piles of trash on the street were not a best practice for the environmental stewardship of our local water bodies, including the Jordan River and Great Salt Lake, because those items have the potential to wash directly into the stormwater system.
- Regarding green waste in particular: The Jordan River is classified as “impaired” under the federal Clean Water Act for several pollutants, including Low Dissolved Oxygen (DO). Low DO results from sediment (soil and dirt) and organic matter (grass clippings, leaves, etc.) making their way into the Jordan River from area stormwater and other non-point sources. As this organic material decays, it pulls oxygen out of the water and thereby harms aquatic life.
- This is why having loose green waste — things like leaves, grass, dirt, brush, and twigs (i.e. anything that can wash into the stormwater system) is no longer accepted as part of the City’s bulk waste collection program. (Instead, use weekly containers or private haulers).
- Finally, the Neighborhood Cleanup piles, particularly those containing organic material and small loose items, could clog gutters and storm drains, leading to localized flooding and property damage.
Appearance of neighborhoods
There was a considerable difference in how Neighborhood Cleanup impacted west side and east side neighborhoods. Unfortunately, NCU led to illegal dumping and other program violations (e.g., type of material, quantity of material, duration piles remained out) in west side communities in such a way that enforcing or preventing infractions was almost impossible.
Increasing recycling and diversion from the landfill
Neighborhood Cleanup – with many mixed piles of debris – did not allow the City to maximize recycling and diversion.
Redesigning the program allows us to collect, recycle and properly dispose of a wider range of material, including electronic waste, tires, refrigerators, mattresses, and metals. We have also realized a higher diversion rate for green waste through the use of extra compost containers.
Call 2 Haul enables residents to have a year-round option for requesting a collection, instead of being locked into the once-a-year schedule pre-determined by the City.
Salt Lake City staff conducted extensive research into bulky waste collection programs offered across the nation. After 12 months, City staff determined that four potential programs would meet regulatory and community needs.
A survey to collect input on NCU and these four options was open to the public from August 2017 to September 2017. Results were analyzed and helped inform the City’s decision on the new program. Options included:
Implementing a Call to Haul program (fits within existing Neighborhood Cleanup budget)
Moving to a dumpster program (double the cost of existing program)
Eliminating the bulk waste program and offering residents landfill vouchers to self-haul material (half the cost of current program)
Creating and enforcing stricter regulations around the existing Neighborhood Cleanup Program (increased budget impact due to greater enforcement efforts)
All options moving forward would require that waste be containerized and set-out time limited to avoid material entering our waterways.
Survey outreach included:
Bilingual (English/Spanish) digital survey open for 42 days in August–September 2017
Bilingual (English/Spanish) survey notices placed on approximately 45,000 residential curbside containers
Link to survey posted on City social media accounts and promoted in newsletters
Survey postcards distributed around the city
4,091 responses were received from Salt Lake City residents
Survey respondents were presented program options and asked to choose which they prefer:
49% chose Call-2-Haul
41% chose the current program with increased restrictions
6% chose the dumpster option
4% chose landfill vouchers
You can view full survey results here.
In addition to the nearly 4,100 people who submitted surveys, over 1,000 filled in the optional comments.
We compiled these comments with others that came in from social media, NextDoor, and our Waste & Recycling phone line. A summary of these comments can (PDF).
Survey Results Infographic
Call 2 Haul Selected
Evaluating feedback and examining the above criteria, Salt Lake City’s Sustainability Department determined that, of the four options, the Call 2 Haul program could best meet our city’s environmental, community, and budgetary needs.
We also believe the new program will also offer residents many more conveniences compared to Neighborhood Cleanup, including proper disposal of electronic waste and tires without having to transport them elsewhere; greater scheduling flexibility; and reduced illegal dumping.
We appreciate your feedback, suggestions & questions.
If you have further questions on this program, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call Salt Lake City’s Waste & Recycling line at (801) 535-6999.