ST. LOUIS – The City of St. Louis’ plan to clean up its image when it comes to recycling starts Tuesday. That plan includes the return of the city’s recycling program and a crackdown on illegal dumpers. The city also wants to be strategic with its trash pick-up.  

City of St. Louis Operations Manager Nancy Cross said the city had to suspend alleyway recycling collection because of a national labor shortage. Last August, the city began offering $3,000 bonuses for new refuse truck drivers. Officials predicted a return of recycling service shortly after Thanksgiving.

Officials predicted a return of recycling service shortly after Thanksgiving, but that didn’t happen. Still, the city collected $14-a-month refuse fees. About $3 of that is for recycling.

This comes as dumpsters are still overflowing in spots. A new map is making the return of recycling possible as the city plans to track which parts of the city produce the most trash. This will allow the department to be strategic with pick-up while freeing up drivers for separate recycling routes again.

“This is the first time we’ve done anything like that,” said Angela Pearson, special projects manager for St. Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones. “We know that everyone will continue to get trash pickup at least once a week. That’s standard practice for any city but we also want to make sure we’re being data-driven in our approach…so that we can continue to keep those bins and those dumpsters from overflowing.”

The city has hired nine new drivers but still needs about 10 more. The City of St. Louis is also more than doubling the number of illegal dumping surveillance cameras.

“The mayor just geared it up like 5 times, put it on steroids. It’s going to be crazy heat. They’re going to go from 200 cameras to 500 cameras,” said St. Louis Refuse Commissioner Todd Waeltermann. “This is huge.”