Last week, Lexington mayor Jim Newberry released a city audit filled with ideas on how to streamline city business making it more effective and efficient.
One of the ideas presented was mandatory recycling. And while there is no decision made yet, the mayor says he'll consider it.
Nearly 60 percent of people in Lexington do recycle in some form or fashion, but there's still a need for more and the mayor says if it becomes mandatory they will enforce it.
If the city does adopt a mandatory recycling program, the mayor says it's quite possible they'll have someone doing spot checks to make sure you are recycling. That means someone literally digging though your trash.
We did some digging ourselves and found that hundreds of cities across the country already have mandatory recycling programs. In some places it's a statewide policy, but how do they work?
We took a look at Madison, Wisconsin, a town similar to Lexington in size and demographics. The plan is simple, residents with city trash service receive a trash can and a recycle bin. If the garbage collectors see recyclable material in the our garbage can, they won't pick it up.
You won't find someone sifting through your trash to see what's in it. Instead, they've gone high tech with cameras in the hoppers of the garbage trucks which allow the drivers to watch as the trash is being dumped in.
If they see recyclable material in the garbage can, they'll put a note on the door, reminding the resident of the mandatory recycling rules. If it happens over and over you're at risk of a fine.
Seattle started a mandatory recycling plan this year. People could face a $50 fine after the third violation and in New Jersey, it's a state law and the fines can go up to $1000!
Vanceburg is the only city in Kentucky with a mandatory program in place.
Bluegrass PRIDE in Lexington says the voluntary recycling program in town works well with nearly 60% of people using it in some way. But there's always room for improvement and that starts with education.
Amy Sohner says nearly 10 thousand of jobs depend on recycling in this area. There are recycling companies all over the area like in Berea and northern Kentucky. In Somerset, they take recycled plastics and turn it into playground items.
The average person produces over 7 pounds of garbage every day and at least a quarter of that is recyclable.