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Muscatine Wrangles Recycling Problem

City of Muscatine

Muscatine residents need more options for recycling cardboard. 
But Collin Schopp reports after one solution was abused, the city is going back to the drawing board. 

In late July, Muscatine opened a cardboard recycling dropoff outside public works, in addition to its curbside pickup program. But on Tuesday, Muscatine closed the dropoff site.

Spokesman Kevin Jenison says the "cardboard only" service was intended to be small scale, for residents who run out of space to recycle it using their bins at home. 

"When people started driving by and seeing it, they started to tell their neighbors and whoever they thought needed to know about the cardboard recycling area," said Jenison. "I know there was a lot of chatter on social media, especially Facebook."

Credit City of Muscatine

Before long, mounds of boxes, styrofoam, plastic, and trash were piled up near the bins. No one was following the rules to flatten boxes. At one point, a mattress was found stuffed in one of the bins. Jenison says it looked terrible and had to go. 

Credit City of Muscatine

Muscatine is exploring options to re-start the dropoff service, such as hiring an attendant, charging a fee for cardboard brought from outside town, or electronic monitoring.

Jenison says that's all up in the air.

"I think it's more of a wait-and-see approach right now," said Jenison. "Of course, the main thing we want to do is make sure it's cost effective. Not just for the city itself, but also for our residents. We don't want to have to increase our rates just to cover recycling."

For now, Muscatine residents can continue leaving cardboard at the curb on their recycling pickup day.

I'm currently a Senior at Augustana College, working on majors in Multimedia Journalism and Mass Communication and Communication Studies. In addition to interning at the station, I also work for the Augustana Observer, the college's official student newspaper, as a writer for the Arts and Entertainment section.