Normal Unveils Multi-Family Recycling Ordinance, Requiring On-Site Recycling Next Year

 Normal Public Works Director Wayne Aldrich presented the Town's proposed multi-family recycling ordinance at an informational meeting Thursday evening. (Photo: Breanna Grow/AdaptBN)

Normal Public Works Director Wayne Aldrich presented the Town's proposed multi-family recycling ordinance at an informational meeting Thursday evening. (Photo: Breanna Grow/AdaptBN)

Normal unveiled its proposed multi-family recycling ordinance during an informational meeting Thursday evening requiring property owners to offer on-site recycling by August 1, 2019.

Property owners of any units besides single and two-family homes, including mobile homes, will have to install receptacles and pay private collectors to haul the materials to a recycling center once a week.

Normal Public Works Director Wayne Aldrich said the ordinance is aimed at increasing recycling, helping reduce the amount of waste that’s added to landfills each year. It’s also meant to make the Town’s recycling policies more equitable among residents.

The Town’s curbside recycling program is only available at single- and two-family properties. And while multi-family property owners can offer their own recycling programs via private collectors, “the majority do not,” Aldrich said.

That leaves it up to residents without access to on-site recycling to take materials to one of four Midwest Fiber Recycling drop-box locations throughout the Town.

Aldrich said it’s unlikely the Town would step into the role of a private collector as part of the ordinance.

“It would involve a different program for us,” he said. “When we collect on the street, it’s automated; we stop, pick it up and go.”

The Ecology Action Center in Normal serves as the solid waste agency for McLean County, the Town and the City of Bloomington. The agency increased the county-wide recycling goal to 50% after municipalities adopted its 20-year waste management plan earlier this year.

The plan identifies multi-family recycling as a top priority to meet the new goal by 2022; currently, the county recycles 42% of waste materials generated, according to the EAC.

Normal’s proposed ordinance requires property owners to file an annual report with EAC Executive Director Michael Brown, who also serves as the county’s solid waste coordinator, detailing the amount and types of materials collected.

Brown said the provision will help the EAC issue its own county-wide report.

“We already are required as part of our work to calculate the annual recycling rate and total waste generation for the community,” he said. “Honestly, that is a very complex and difficult process...it takes little bits of assistance like this for us to be able to get more detailed data.”

Brown said the provision will help refine the EAC’s reporting process, as well as help track the success of and improve Normal’s ordinance.

The proposal also includes a $100 daily fine for non-compliant property owners, with inspectors checking for violations during annual property inspections.

Town Planner Mercy Davison said while the penalty sounds severe, the Town rarely ends up assessing the other fines currently included in its building code.

“We’re always working with property owners over all sorts of matters to resolve an issue,” she said. “If our inspector doesn’t see the facility on day one we won’t start charging $100 a day.”

Aldrich said property owners should see the ordinance pay off as recycling rates increase.

“It should be, in the long run, cheaper to recycle,” he said. “Landfill fees are much higher than recycling.”

Aldrich noted most private garbage collectors in the area also offer recycling collection to their commercial clients.

He said the Town also spoke to a number of apartment owners before settling on the August 2019 deadline to match student leasing cycles and give owners time to prepare for the new rules.

What’s Next: The Town Council is expected to consider the ordinance at its July 2 meeting.