Chattanooga’s curbside recycling program will soon get a boost from a business that grinds glass into sand, another that makes composting food waste easy and an effort to better educate city residents on what can and cannot be recycled. The pilot programs showcased during the city’s annual Startup Week have been given the green light and $3,500 to $5,000 in funding to test their ideas.”It’s crowdsourcing at its finest,” Mayor Tim Kelly said after the presentations at Waterhouse Pavilion.

Curbside recycling accounts for about 80% of materials collected for recycling in the city, but the curbside program was suspended in July due to a truck driver shortage. The pausing of the curbside pickup program, which will resume on Nov. 1 after the city raised employee pay to attract more drivers, was a crucial opportunity to revisit a program that needs improvement, Kelly added.”I think it served as a really teachable moment for us all to go back and look at what was going well, what was going poorly and how we can fix it,” he said. “We have a big opportunity here.”

Four proposals made the cut to test out ideas for helping residents recycle more effectively and for reducing the amount of waste the city handles. “These ideas are being implemented, the results will be measured, the city will know how it went,” said Christine DiPietro, director of programs at nonprofit small-business booster the Company Lab.

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Author: Mary Fortune, Chattanooga Times Free Press
Image: Matt Hamilton, 
Chattanooga Times Free Press