Guest Editorial: Trash Talk, It’s In the Bin

By Councilwoman Betty Janik

In the summer of 2022, Scottsdale initiated the Old Town Scottsdale Recycling and Old Town Alley Refresh Campaign. Commissioner Andrew Scheck and I were founding members of the committee that included Scottsdale’s Solid Waste (SW) and Code Enforcement (CE) Departments. The goal was to provide recycle opportunities for businesses, beautify business alleys, and enhance sustainability in Old Town Scottsdale. It started as a pilot program with a few alleys in most need of cleanup. SW and CE teams worked with businesses and property owners to get them onboard. Alley Refresh focused on removal of outside materials, equipment, and business-related items as well as sidewalk encroachment, litter, shopping carts, and general blight. To kick off the campaign, a free business bulk trash pickup was available as part of the first big cleanup. The business community loved it.

Bins were cleaned up, painted as needed, and repaired or replaced. Recycle cans were placed in the alley. Businesses received continued encouragement to separate trash from recyclables and break down cardboard, leaving no excuse for litter. Areas for recycling were expanded. Recycle made easy was the norm. Our Solid Waste department offered exceptional service with frequent pickups and an option for more pickups as needed. Private vendors Waste Management and Republic Services were anxious to participate. The motto: “Clean alleys are safe alleys and good for business.”

Alley paving was the final step in the renew program which provided “curb appeal” and a safer driving experience. By Superbowl in February 2023, Old Town Scottsdale was looking sharp and ready for our visitors!

Next, on to goal #3. Can Sustainability be a continuing effort not just one shot for special events? To monitor continuing success or lack of it, the amounts of trash and recyclables were weighed starting in April 2023. I am excited to announce that from April 2023 to January 2024, SW has collected 114,903 lbs (over 57.45 tons) of trash. Of greater significance, an amazing 27,908 lbs (13,95 tons) of recyclables have been collected and reused, preserving space in the landfill, a WIN-WIN. This represents a 19.5% diversion rate. As an added perk, we achieved an exceptionally low contamination rate of less than 5%. Thank you, Old Town Scottsdale businesses! Thank you to Scottsdale staff including Solid Waste, Code Enforcement, Communication, Tourism, and Street Operations.

The work continues in our downtown area with current focus on engaging the entertainment district. Solid Waste Department and Code Enforcement continue their mission – provide recycle opportunities, beautify business areas, promote Sustainability. Let’s all chip in – to trash cans, recycle bins, and composting containers – to keep Sustainability growing!

With environmental stewardship at the forefront, the city is relaunching its Sustainable Scottsdale Awards Program – an initiative that celebrates outstanding contributions to sustainability and environmental stewardship within the Scottsdale community. The program recognizes exceptional leadership and innovation in sustainability and showcases efforts that exceed typical environmental practices.

Scottsdale Councilwoman Betty Janik