Observations on Recycling and Automated Collection

This is an archived page related to the pilot.

The information on this page and related pages only applied to the pilot and does not apply to any current collection.

A Mini Blog About Recycling & Automated Collection Pilot

Prologue: 2,500 homes in Omaha are part of a pilot program to test collection using 96-gallon carts for garbage/yardwaste and recycling. Part of the test for the pilot program, is to see if residents recycle as well or better (looking at quantity and quality) using the carts as they do with the bins. We will do a comparison of how residents in each pilot collection route (the five week days) recycle before the pilot and during the pilot.

As a reminder of what is recyclable, click here.

Second Recycling Collection Week using the Automated Side Load Truck


Friday, December 2, 2016
The automated side load trucks used in the pilot don’t have a packer blade to push out the recyclables. Instead the truck tips up to dump out the recyclables, but that’s usually not enough to get all of the recyclables out. The driver must back up and quickly stop to shake the recyclables loose.As it unloads, do you see things that shouldn’t be recycled?

Garbage only collection week, and the Thanksgiving holiday


Monday, November 21, 2016
Thanksgiving is later this week. Here’s something that made us smile. We hope it entertains you too.

First Recycling Collection Week Using the Automated Side Load Truck


Friday, November 18, 2016.
Recycling wall of shame. With the advent of flash drives and cloud music, CDs are fewer and farther between. You may have a bunch to get rid of, but recycling them curbside or at Omaha’s drop-off sites is not an option. CDs are made of a plastic unlike any other, so they need to be kept out of Omaha’s collection program.Again, a case of aspirational recycling.  See entry from Thursday, November 17, 2016.

There is hope however if you do make the effort. Earth911.com has a search engine for recycling. You can give it a try https://search.earth911.com/ And yes, CDs can be recycled at a few locations in Omaha. We’ve done the search, and the results are available by clicking here.



Thursday, November 17, 2016.
Recycling’s wall of shame comes again. Never, ever, have we promoted recycling wooden toys. What are people thinking? This toy could have been given to a thrift store and enjoyed by some other boy or girl. Instead the toy is broken up, sorted from the recycling and headed to the landfill.This is what is called aspirational recycling. You can also call it wish-cycling…”I wish someone would recycling this even though I don’t know if it can be and I’m to lazy to find out.” SMH

Fortune magazine wrote about aspirational recycling back in 2015. It’s a good read that is available by clicking here.


Wednesday, November 16, 2016.
For as long as Omaha has had recycling bins, the recommendation was to put them under the bin. With a cart, that is no longer a recommendation. Everything must be in the cart for collection.Likewise, all recyclables must fit in the cart. Gone are the days of using a box or a paper bag to hold extra recyclables that won’t in a recycling bin. If you have more than will fit in the cart there are three options. 1) take the extra recyclables to a drop-off site as listed here. 2) hold the recyclables for the next collection. 3) Request an additional recycling cart if this is a frequent need for your household. You may also look at your recycling habits. Are you flattening boxes and milk jugs? A Cereal box that isn’t flattened will fill up your cart fast!


Tuesday, November 15, 2016.
Recycling’s wall of shame. Some of the glass received today that isn’t recyclable/recycled when put in the curbside bin or cart. Putting non recyclable items into the recycling increases the cost of recycling, can damage equipment, and the stuff still goes to the landfill. This was window glass, but the same is true for glass bottles and jars.When in doubt, throw it out!

Glass should only be recycled at Omaha’s drop-off sites where it is collected separately. The drop-off sites are listed at this link. Broken glass is dangerous for those who must sort the other recyclables.



Monday, November 14, 2016.
Automated collection of recycling started today. 390 households in the Monday pilot area. A high percentage of households set out recycling in their cart. 6,940 pounds of recyclables were collected. This was two weeks of recycling and the per household weight was right at double the weight of the previous recycling week.
What we observed that shouldn’t be recycled

  • Electronics or anything with a cord or battery are not recyclable in the cart. We found both a kid’s electronic toy and a bubble machine in the sample. Those things can be recycled if you look up a location from https://search.earth911.com.
  • Glass Bottles are not suppose to be recycled in the cart. Recycle glass at Omaha’s drop-off sites that are listed at https://www.omaharecycles.com
  • Plastic and metal hangars are not recyclable in the cart. Most of the plastic ones aren’t the right type of plastic and even if they are they don’t go through the process well. Metal hangers also don’t go through the processing well (metal hangars can go to a scrap metal yard)
  • Tissue packing paper, paper towels or facial tissue. That type of paper will disintegrate when recycled and should go in the garbage. The funny thing we found was a long tissue streamer. We’re thinking it was part of a mummy Halloween costume.
  • Plastic bags. We can’t say this enough. NO PLASTIC BAGS. And get the newspapers out of the plastic delivery bags.

And this made us smile. This Halloween pumpkin treat container is made out of HDPE plastic, and is recyclable. But think about other ways this could be re-used. A thrift store could sell this treat basket to some other lucky kid. (We took it back to the office, washed it, put it away to be used next year for an office decoration.) A reminder, the wrappers for candy are not recyclable.

First Collection Week Using the Automated Side Load Truck…For Garbage Anyway



Thursday, November 10, 2016.
Nothing new to add for today. Just automated collection working like it should in the Thursday pilot area. Click the picture for a video.





Wednesday, November 9, 2016.
This is one of the oopsies that isn’t very common, but that we need to correct. This cart is facing the wrong way. The handle of the cart should be towards the house. That’s how the truck’s arm needs it so it can be emptied.The driver can easily fix it and complete the collection but every time they have to get out of the cab of the truck is slows things down. If you see a cart facing the wrong direction let the owners known and turn it around yourself if you don’t mind. It would be much appreciated.


Tuesday, November 8, 2016.
One of the nice things about automated collection is how neat and tidy a street can be on collection day. This street in Tuesday’s pilot area is a prime example.Tuesday’s area has more trees than the Monday area, but for the most part they handled the quantity of leaves quite well. During the pilot, homes may have up to two 96-gallon carts for combined garbage and yardwaste. They may also set out an additional six special paper yardwaste bags or bundles of brush that will be collected. Yardwaste collection is year around, so excess yardwaste can be held until a future collection.




Monday, November 7, 2016.
Automated collection has started…for garbage anyway.Some of the things that we noticed are

  • Giving extra space around the carts was generally good. If anything got in the way it was usually paper bags of extra yardwaste.
  • The handle needs to be pointing towards the house.


Last Collection Week Using Recycling Bins and Manual Collection




Friday, November 4, 2016.
480 households in the Friday pilot area. 331 set out recyclables for collection (69{1e4c2ebc150352f5d45a3acb5984e0054d480c8faf28413b06af920d6531db3a} participation in line with the participation from Monday through Wednesday). 3,290 pounds of recyclables were collected (average of 9.94 pounds per participating household).We’re seeing lot of political mail. I wonder why that is. 

Plastics seem to always be the problem. Here are the plastics we found in today’s load that should not be recycled…

  • Styrofoam egg carts. No place for these to go. Put in your garbage.
  • Candy wrappers (hmmm Halloween was Monday do you think that has something to do with it?). No place for these to go. Put in your garbage.
  • Hazardous chemical bottles. When empty, put in your garbage, otherwise take unwanted chemicals to UnderTheSink.
  • Toys. Especially the fastfood kids meal toys. No place for these to go. Put in your garbage.

There was an interesting find—a part of the envelope from the letter announcing the pilot program.





Thursday, November 3, 2016.
544 houses in the Thursday pilot area. 257 set out recyclables for collection (46{1e4c2ebc150352f5d45a3acb5984e0054d480c8faf28413b06af920d6531db3a} participation–That’s less and makes me sad). 2,740 pounds of recyclables were collected (average of 10.66 pounds per participating household).This was the first day when our participation rate dropped. It went down from the 60s to the mid 40s. The number of pounds per household was more consistent with other days.

What we observed that shouldn’t be recycled

  • A few glass bottles and some broken glass were observed in today’s load. Glass must be taken to a drop-off site to be recycled. That’s so important, I’ll repeat it…Glass must be taken to a drop-off site to be recycled. The drop-off sites are listed at https://www.omaharecycles.com
  • Paint cans are recyclable, but they shouldn’t be half full of dry paint. 
  • Chunks of Styrofoam packing. (recyclable only at https://www.plastilite.com/green-initiatives/)




Wednesday, November 2, 2016.
388 houses in the Wednesday pilot area route. 244 set out recyclables for collection (63{1e4c2ebc150352f5d45a3acb5984e0054d480c8faf28413b06af920d6531db3a} participation). 4,120 pounds of recyclables were collected (average 16.89 pounds per participating household).Interesting that the percent participating remained relatively consistent so far, but a nice jump in the number of pounds average per participant.

What we observed that shouldn’t be recycled

  • Plastic hangars. Many of these aren’t the right type of plastic and even if they are they don’t go through the process well. And in case you were wondering, you shouldn’t recycle metal hangers either. (metal hangars can go to a scrap metal yard)
  • Plastic eating utensils or plastic disposable plates. These aren’t the right types of plastics.
  • Plastic bags. We can’t say this enough. NO PLASTIC BAGS. And get the newspapers out of the plastic delivery bags.




Tuesday, November 1, 2016.
730 houses on the route. 471 households had recycling out for collection (70{1e4c2ebc150352f5d45a3acb5984e0054d480c8faf28413b06af920d6531db3a} participation). 4,660 pounds of recyclables were collected (average 9.89 pounds per participating household). Thank you to the pilot recycling driver Scott for collecting very accurate information!Interesting that the percent participating was relatively consistent between Monday and Tuesday, and that the average of weight was very similar.

What we observed that should not be recycled

  • Glass bottles (there were only a few but glass is bad because it breaks and can harm workers. Only recycle glass at Omaha’s drop-off sites, listed at https://www.omaharecycles.com)
  • NO PLASTIC BAGS, NO PLASTIC BAGS, NO PLASTIC BAGS. (Yes, it’s that bad that it has to be in all caps and repeated three times. Plastic bags tangle up in the equipment and slow the processing. If you want to recycle plastic bags take them back to stores who collect them)

Other observations…

  • Peanut butter jars are a mess. If you don’t want to wash them out, please put them in the garbage.

Interesting finds…

  • One of the letters sent out about the pilot collection and a postcard to the pilot’s open house. 



Monday, October 31, 2016.
394 houses on the route. 255 households had recycling out for collection (65{1e4c2ebc150352f5d45a3acb5984e0054d480c8faf28413b06af920d6531db3a} participation). 2,360 pounds of recyclables collected (average 9.25 pounds per participating household).A sample was take from the load of recyclables and hand sorted. Here are the non-recyclable items that we found:

  • Styrofoam egg cartons (not recyclable in Omaha, place in garbage)
  • Gerber plastic containers (these aren’t recyclable because they are #7 and we only recycle #1, #2, #3 and #5)
  • Plastic bags (Don’t put your recyclables in plastic bags!! plastic bags gum up the recycling equipment. You can recycle plastic bags at may stores)
  • Metal baking sheet (recyclable at a scrap mental yard only)
  • Piece of plastic shelving (not recyclable in Omaha, place in garbage)

Things we were very pleased that we did not find or observe, because they shouldn’t be recycled curbside:

  • Glass bottles (these are only recyclable at Omaha’s drop-off sites)
  • Packing peanuts (recycle them at mailing and shipping stores)
  • Styrofoam packing material (recyclable only at https://www.plastilite.com/green-initiatives/)
Translate »
PHP Code Snippets Powered By : XYZScripts.com
Skip to content