ST. LOUIS – The City of St. Louis has a new plan to clean up its sometimes trashy image. That plan includes the return of the city’s recycling program and a crackdown on illegal dumpers.

City Refuse Division drivers still empty both the brown dumpsters for garbage and the blue ones for recycling; but since last summer, everything’s been going into the trash.

“The city had to suspend alleyway recycling collection last year in the face of a national labor shortage,” said Nancy Cross, operations manager of the City of St. Louis.

Last August, the city began offering $3,000 bonuses for new refuse truck drivers. Officials predicted a return of recycling service shortly after Thanksgiving.

That didn’t happen.

Still, the city collected $14-a-month refuse fees, about $3 of which is for recycling. There have been no refunds. Dumpsters are still overflowing in spots. The city has hired nine new drivers but still needs about 10 more.

“Our old collection system hasn’t worked,” Cross said at a news conference announcing the return of the city’s recycling program.

A new map is making the return of recycling possible on Tuesday, May 31. Staff is now tracking which parts of the city produce the most trash. So, the city can now be strategic with trash pickup, 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 garbage trends will continually be updated and monitored. The map and collection efforts will be adjusted accordingly.

Even though it hasn’t been that long since the recycling program was paused, St. Louis may need a refresher course. A trash dumpster in The Grove neighborhood was full of recyclables in south St. Louis on Wednesday. That overflowing dumpster in The Grove is behind a vacant building, filled with trash from somewhere else.

All of the cereal boxes, milk jugs, beer cans, and glass jars need to go into blue recycling dumpsters again, un-bagged.

“It’s easy to recycle if you just stick with ‘the 6,’” said Elysia Musumeci, program manager for St. Louis Recycles, a division of Operation Brightside. “Always recycle paper, flattened cardboard, plastic bottles and containers, glass bottles and jars, metal food and beverage cans, and food and beverage cartons. Keep items loose, clean, and dry.”

St. Louis Recycles is offering 13-gallon in-home recycling containers for a $1 donation. Go to https://stlcityrecycles.com/ for information on how to get a container and for more information about what you should recycle and how.

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.”