Recycling ‘cans’ for pizza containers an outside-the-box solution

(First photo) From left, Jason Covington, James Johnson, and Paul Thompson of Covington’s Public Works Department prepare to install the pizza-box recycling containers in MainStrasse Village.

(Second photo) The installed receptacle keeps large pizza boxes from clogging garbage cans.

3 receptacles installed in MainStrasse Village to reduce litter

COVINGTON, Ky. – A large pizza box doesn’t fit into a public garbage can.
So night in and night out, the first person to get up from their outdoor table in MainStrasse Village would simply lay the empty cardboard container from their late-night cheese-laden pie on top of the nearest can, succeeding primarily in covering up the “hole.”
The second person to throw away a box would in essence solidify the “clog” … and then anyone else who wanted to throw away a bottle, can, cup, napkin, chewing gum, or anything else would add to the pile, the result being trash everywhere but where it belonged. 
“Multiple boxes stacked up, and it eventually all fell to the ground,” said Brian Goessling, former president of the Residents of MainStrasse Association. “It’s been an issue for a really long time.”
Thanks to a partnership among ROMA, Rumpke Waste & Recycling, and the City’s Public Works and Solid Waste & Recycling departments, an outside-the-box solution has been put into place:
If the boxes won’t fit the cans, make the “cans” fit the boxes.
Three recycling receptacles specially designed to fit large pizza boxes have been installed in MainStrasse Village near a couple of popular late-night pizza restaurants.
The City, and the neighborhood, hopes they fix what the City’s Solid Waste & Recycling Division calls “blooming” cans.
That’s where – just like a bouquet of flowers but decidedly less attractive – cans jammed with pizza boxes “sprout” a big array of garbage that spills out and spreads out all over the place.
The challenge now is to make the public both aware of the receptacles and how to use them – and persuade them to use them.
“If people do it right, the pizza-box problem is going to be solved,” said Sheila Fields, the City’s Solid Waste & Recycling coordinator. “None of us want litter on the streets, and all of us can do something about it.”
Signs on the cans give instruction, and City officials hope to partner with pizza parlors to create and post additional signage, fliers, social media messaging, and perhaps stickers to apply to boxes.
To be recycled and “stacked,” the boxes need to be empty of food scraps, napkins, wax, paper and other trash. And – technically speaking – any part of the box that’s saturated with grease or coated with cheese should be torn off and thrown into the garbage can. The “clean” boxes can then be stacked in the special box containers to be recycled.
Rumpke will collect the boxes as part of its recycling routes.
The three receptacles were installed this week by Public Works employees at these locations: in the Sixth Street Promenade on both the west and east sides of Main Street, and further south on Main near Craft & Vines wine bar and tap room.
That’s because the problem came primarily from late-night customers who would order out and take their pizza to nearby tables and outdoor dining areas.
ROMA paid for the receptacles using part of a Neighborhood Grant it received from the City’s Neighborhood Services Department.
Fields said the City applied for and received a state grant for three additional receptacles.
“We really think this square-peg, square-hole solution will work, if people work with us,” she said.
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