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Garbage bag exchange in Elmira

Elmira residents who have black garbage bags they can’t use because of the city’s new clear-bag requirement have an opportunity to exchange them for clear bags next week.

From 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, city residents can bring up to 45 clean, unused colored garbage bags to be exchanged one-for-one for clear bags at the Cornell Cooperative Extension of Chemung County office in the county Human Resource Building, 425 Pennsylvania Ave. in Elmira.

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Participants will also receive educational materials on how to “reduce, re-use and recycle” in their homes.

“I thought this was a wonderful effort on their part and appreciate their assistance,” City Manager Kimberlee Balok Middaugh said, noting the bag swap is a Cornell Cooperative Extension initiative.

“We have been working with them to assist us in promoting and providing education regarding our new recycling program,” she said. “This idea was brought to us by them as a way to assist the residents to make the process easier and less of a burden.”

Cornell Cooperative Extension staff members who participate in the agency’s Poverty Reduction Coalition heard from some city residents who had recently purchased colored bags that they could no longer use under the city’s new clear-bag requirement, which went into effect Dec. 1.

With the help of local businesses, Cornell Cooperative Extension and developed the bag exchange to help families transition to the new city policy.

Sam’s Club offered the initial supply of clear bags, and other businesses have been contacted to match their donation.

Meanwhile, the campaign to promote recycling in the city continues to show success in reducing the amount of garbage taken to the landfill, Middaugh said. Savings are anticipated from reducing the amount of solid waste the city transports to the county landfill.

After the start of the city’s initiative that included distribution of new recycling bins, the amount of recycled materials collected had at least doubled over several weeks in the fall, according to Brian Beasley, Elmira’s superintendent of buildings and grounds.

“The recycling efforts have continued to improve,” Middaugh said. “We want to push those efforts forward into 2015.”