Waste, Recycling & Composting Progress
Waste creates significant negative environmental and social impact when it decomposes in the landfill. The landfill emits methane gas and uses vital community resources. Extraordinary reductions in the amount of waste generated by the community can happen with simple steps to reuse materials, compost, and recycle.
Residents consistently ask for a coordinated Town approach to composting and recycling in the Town of Erie’s Community Surveys. The strategies below listed in the Sustainability Plan, as well as three new policy recommendations, provide many opportunities to reduce the amount of waste produced by our community and in turn, reducing the consequential impacts on environmental and human health.
|W1. Relocate and improve the Erie Recycling Center and explore opportunities to add a yard waste collection facility that provides mulch and/or compost to residents and businesses.||Achieved|
|W2. Adopt the Re-TRAC policy that ensures that waste diversion is tracked, and recycling is improved to all residents and businesses of Erie at minimal cost.||Achieved|
|W3. Explore a phased approach to ensure that curbside composting is available within the community to anyone who chooses to use it.||Achieved|
|W4. Implement a phased approach to a Universal Zero Waste Ordinance.||Achieved|
|W5. Work with regional organizations to expand easy and local access to materials reuse and hard-to-recycle services and events.||Achieved|
|W6. In a phased approach, reward waste diversion on construction and demolition and public works projects.||Needs more development|
|W7. Explore the opportunity to bring a materials reuse center to Erie that will provide a location for diverting reusable construction and demolition materials and create local jobs.||Needs more development|
|W8. Expand zero-waste policies for all Town events and meetings.||Achieved|
|W9. Enhance the recycling infrastructure at Town facilities and in public locations, such as downtown and in outdoor commercial and community gathering spaces.||On Track|
|W10. Develop Town-wide green purchasing policies where cost-benefit is shown.||On Track|
The Town partnered with Eco-Cycle, a recycling non-profit organization, to provide policy recommendations that will ensure Erie achieves its goal of becoming a Zero Waste Community.
Currently, Erie residents and businesses recycle and compost only 25% of their discards and send more than 17,400 tons of material to the landfill every year. This means that every year, each person produces 1,100 pounds of landfilled trash. Implementing the following three comprehensive policy initiatives could double Erie’s waste diversion rate within the five years and recover 50% of its discarded material. (See the full policy recommendations and data.)
- Adopt a zero waste ordinance to phase in recycling and composting for all sectors.
Significantly increasing recycling and composting in Erie needs to involve all sectors of the community. Through one comprehensive policy, the Town can establish a process to phase in recycling and composting access for all residents and businesses.
- Implement a single-hauler Town Contract for recycling and composting for underserved Old Town residents.
The Town can facilitate cost-effective recycling and composting services in the underserved areas of Old Town and any HOAs that do not currently provide service or want to opt-in to the Town contract. This targeted approach will be easier to implement and less disruptive than a full town-wide single-hauler program while still advancing the goal of curbside recycling access for all residents.
- Update building codes and events permitting to support future waste diversion.
Erie has a significant opportunity to implement supporting policies that will set the foundation for smarter growth that will reduce GHG emissions and increase waste diversion for decades to come. These policies can be implemented through building code updates and permitting processes, and do not require the adoption of an ordinance.
By 2026, Erie could be composting more than 12,000 tons per year, which mitigates more than 21,000 megatons of CO2 emissions per year; this is equivalent to keeping 4,500 cars off the road each year! These policies also address the inequities in waste services and pricing in Erie, specifically in the Old Town neighborhood.
Ways You Can Help
- Contact your HOA about opting into the Town’s hauler contract.
- Order your own curbside compost bin from your existing hauler.
- If you don’t have access to curbside recycling, sign up with your hauler now.
- Learn more at the Erie Recycling & Waste Disposal website.
Sustainability Advisory Board Happenings:
Last updated July 2022