The city of Newton will be changing its recycling rules over the next year. It's a change many say is for the better. It will hopefully make it easier for residents criticizing the current rules as too strict.
Currently, the city of Newton diverts 35% of all its trash from going into a landfill, but it requires one thing; The residents must separate recyclables into separate bins.
"We're working on a new program and we think it's going to be much simpler for the public," said Newton Public Works Director Suzanne Loomis.
Harvey County passed an ordinance in 1999 requiring all recyclables to be separated from the trash stream. Residents must separate all of their aluminum cans, paper products and glass into separate bins.
"I agree with it 100%," explains Newton resident Jeff Smith. "It's something that everybody should do, but it is a little strict."
The new plan will begin in January, 2012. It will allow residents to simply throw all of their recyclables into one bin. the separation will be done at the city's trash transfer station.
"We will be switching out some of our equipment. It's going to help us so that we can do it in a more efficient manner," Loomis said. "It can be compacted. All of these materials will be able to be compacted together so that we will make less trips out to the recycling facility."
Some residents we talked to described the current plan as too strict.
"It can be because if you don't do it right, they won't pick it up and then you're stuck," Smith said. "And that's something we've had problems with and I'm sure we're not the only people."
Over the last five years, Newton has handed out about 9,500 citations to residents who don't separate their trash properly, but on the other hand, Harvey County has one of the best recycle rates in the country.
"We're about 10 years out on this and I think it's been successful here," Loomis said. "We probably have maybe five percent of the population that, every now and then, makes mistakes, but our violations I think have been pretty low."
The new plan is expected to be finalized in January of 2012.