By Kim Wilhelm (WICHITA, Kan.)
The red bins you see around Wichita must go - that's the latest word in the bin controversy. On Thursday, the Metropolitan Area Planning Commission voted 9-1 to uphold the current city code ordinance in regards to recyclable material. The code states clothing is not considered a recyclable material. In other words, clothing cannot be placed into a curbside recycling container like the red bins.
The controversy over the red bins started months ago. Complaints started coming in about overflowing bins and junk. The recycling company - American Recyclers - agreed to increase bin pick-ups and would respond immediately to complaints about overflowing containers.
But the controversy didn't end there. Some felt the advertising on the bins was misleading. The bins display the name "Child Start" which is a local non-profit organization which helps children. American Recyclers pays Child Start about $2000 per month for use of its name. None of the items placed inside the bins go to Child Start but are sold. American Recyclers is a for-profit, out-of-state company.
Goodwill Industries of Kansas spoke out against the bins. Goodwill officials say they were concerned for many reasons. Goodwill has noticed a drop in donations since the bins were placed in Wichita. Goodwill uses the money from donations to employ and support workers with disabilities. Goodwill officials were also concerned with allowing too many bins in a community. CEO Emily Compton showed a picture of a town in New Jersey with more than 10 bins from various companies lined up side-by-side.
Metropolitan Area Planning Commission Chairman Nelson Van Fleet says he believes the decision was fair. He says personally, the two things that influenced his vote was the overflow issue and the impact to local organizations.
Attorney Bob Kaplan who represents American Recyclers says the company will comply at the present time.
Since this was a request to change city code wording, city officials tell Eyewitness News there's no process for American Recyclers to appeal the decision.