Recycling comes to Buffalo public housing

The Buffalo Municipal Housing Authority is finally launching a recycling program that should service all 30 of its developments by the end of this year.

This decision comes almost 10 months after Investigative Post reported that the authority was ignoring a longstanding city ordinance that requires residents of multi-family residences to recycle. The authority is the city’s biggest landlord with 4,748 apartments that are home to 7,642 low-income families and senior citizens.

“It is something that we looked as the responsible thing to do and we want to do the right thing,” said Modesto Candelario, the authority’s assistant executive director.

“We do know there is a city ordinance for this particular requirement and we intend to comply with it.”

The program will roll out in five phases between March and November with biweekly pickups. Low-rise and high-rise apartment residents will use the same green totes that the city has for single- and double-family homes. The only difference is there will be a central location for the green totes in high-rise apartments.

The first phase will service LaSalle Courts, Shaffer Village, Camden Apartments, Elmhurst Apartments, and Kenfield and Langfield Homes, all located on the city’s north side.

“I think that this is something that the residents want to see,” said Joe Mascia, one of the authority’s two resident commissioners. “We have residents that recycle and we don’t even have a recycling program.”

The authority issued a request for proposals in September seeking a recycling contractor. Only one bidder responded, Republic Services-Allied Waste, which also has the recycling contract for the city.

Candelario said Republic-Allied will get paid $77,103 for the first year and $130,000 each of the next four years.

The authority estimates the hauler will pick up at least 40 tons of recyclables per month. While Candelario said he hasn’t estimated a recycling rate based on the project, Investigative Post, using authority documents, calculated an 18 percent rate.

That would be higher than the city’s green tote curbside rate of 12.2 percent in 2012, although only about half the national average. City Hall has made strides in recent months to bolster its recycling program.

Recycling 40 tons a month instead of sending it to a landfill would save the authority an estimated $25,000 a year in dumping fees, Investigative Post calculated.

Will the housing authority reach its monthly tonnage goal? There is no guarantee.

For instance, a pilot program tested at four developments for two months last summer fell substantially short of its monthly tonnage goal.

“We think it could do better, but it did enough for us to be encouraged to implement a housing authority-wide program,” Candelario said.

National experts say educational programs are necessary to promote recycling and Candelario said one is needed for the authority. Its governing board is expected to vote before March on spending up to $25,000 on a plan, he said.

“It is a matter of convincing people that this is the right thing to do,” he said. “Our pilot program showed that there is work to be done in terms of getting residents to participate and that’s why we are looking strongly at the educational piece.”


The housing authority was reluctant to talk about its recycling woes last April when Investigative Post started questioning why there wasn’t a program. In fact, administrators sought advice from a pricey public relations firm on how to respond to our questions.

To make matters worse, the crafted response from the authority turned out to be false.

Dawn Sanders-Garrett, the authority’s executive director, said in the April 24 prepared statement that a pilot program had been launched at the Kenfield-Langfield projects.

But an Investigative Post reporter found no evidence of a recycling program at the development, and it wasn’t a part of the authority’s pilot program last summer.

The embarrassing episode led the public relations firm, Eric Mower + Associates, to resign as the authority’s public relations consultant.