Sanitation chief: "We've got to do better"
We've recently reported on the right way to dispose of leaves for composting — call 311 for a special pickup — but how some city workers have been tossing leaf bags in with garbage.
- We've also heard about special "off the books" leaf sweeps in Beverly where a scoop truck collects leaves.
- And last week we obtained documents showing that in some years, leaf collection has actually decreased as calls for leaf pickups have increased.
Why it matters: Mixing yard waste with garbage and sending it to landfills creates the powerful greenhouse gas methane.
What they're saying: For answers, we interviewed new Department of Streets and Sanitation commissioner Cole Stallard.
- On the leaf bags getting tossed with garbage: "I'm not gonna deny that fact. It does happen sometimes as your story said. We're keeping track and taking [most leaves] to the place where they can be composted. But we have to do better."
- On the "off the books" Beverly leaf collection: Stallard says some super leafy areas require extra equipment. "We send a [scooping] front end loader, a semi and a street sweeper. But, just so you know, all those leaves are being composted."
- DSS officials are still not sure why, in some years, leaf collection tonnage decreased when calls increased.
The good news: Chicago's most recent data shows collection rising with increased calls.
Yes, but: In recent years, the Oak Park waste department — which serves 4% as many homes as Chicago's — collected 100 times more leaves by weight.
- In other words, we've got some catching up to do.
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