It takes a Village
Incline residents bag their waste. Why not in Reno?
Incline Village may be part of Washoe County, but when it comes to recycling, the burg hosts a program of a different color: blue.
In 2007, Incline Village General Improvement District (IVGID) began the Blue Bag Program. The program allows residents of Incline Village and Crystal Bay to put household recyclable items in blue bags, without sorting the materials first. That means everything from junk mail to glass bottles can go in one blue bag, more if necessary. Waste Management will pick up as many as bags as residents set on the curb with their garbage every other week. The terms of IVGID’s franchise agreement with Waste Management allows the town to work with nearby Truckee to take recyclable materials and process them at the Cabin Creek Material Recovery Facility (MRF). Nevada does not have any recyclers in the state, except for a tire recycler near Las Vegas.
Madonna Dunbar, resource conservationist for IVGID, says in the three years since the Blue Bag program started, Incline Village recycling rates have dramatically increased—from 6 percent to almost 20 percent. She says the program mimics neighboring California towns. This summer, the district also conducted a residential yard waste collection pilot called the Green Bag program.
“We have a lot of people from the Bay Area who expect this sort of system,” Dunbar said. “We’re playing catch-up in Nevada.”
There are some drawbacks to the program, says Dunbar. For one, residents have to buy the bags, which cost between 25 and 40 cents a piece. Also, like the rest of Washoe County, curbside collection is every other week so people have a difficult time keeping up with the schedule. Incline’s rotating population is another issue. Year-round, about 9,000 residents call the Village home. But that number soars to between 25,000 and 30,000 any given weekend.
“We have so many vacationers. The last thing they want to think about is their garbage,” Dunbar said. “How do we get information to those people?”
Dunbar says residents would prefer a cart to the blue bags, like the cart system Waste Management is proposing to the city of Reno. If that deal goes through, she says it will only be a matter of time until IVGID follows suit.