City Hall progress on recycling

News and analysis by Dan Telvock, Investigative Post's environmental reporter

Two recent developments appear to signal that Buffalo officials are getting more serious about recycling after a series of reports by Investigative Post documenting serious shortcomings in the city’s efforts.

One is a symbolic measure: The Buffalo Common Council on Tuesday passed a resolution calling on the Buffalo Municipal Housing Authority to gets its recycling act together.

As we reported May 1, even though the City Charter mandates that all commercial and multi-family complexes recycle, the authority doesn’t have a comprehensive recycling program for its 27 developments that serve some 10,000 low-income and elderly residents.

Council Members Joseph Golombek Jr. and David Franczyk sponsored the resolution that “requests that BMHA institute the recycling program in order to help promote protection of the environment, while making itself fiscally responsible to the taxpayers of the City of Buffalo.”

In the second development, the city finally hired a recycling coordinator this month. The job has sat vacant since 2009 even though there was funding available for the hire.

Susan Attridge is on the job with a solid background in recycling, including a seven-year stint as Erie County’s recycling coordinator through 2005.

While recycling in the city has increased the past year, thanks to the introduction of green totes, its rate of 14 percent is well below the national average of 34 percent.  The lack of a recycling coordinator and an unwillingness to enforce recycling law are primary reasons for the low rate.

Investigative Post has also reported on a weak effort by city schools and a non-existent one by the Buffalo Municipal  Housing Authority. The schools have shown modest improvement since our initial report; time will tell with the housing authority.