Sunday, April 26, 2015

New Proposals Coming As Recycling Participation Dwindles

Fairhope, Alabama. (


Despite the Recycling Committee's best efforts to promote the service at city events and in schools, participation in the city's once-weekly curbside pick-up of recyclables has actually declined from 43% to only 38% -- according to a recent count by city recycling route drivers.

Only one item, paper/cardboard, accounts for most of that total: plastics, glass, metals lag even further behind

(Only 1,700 tons were recycled last year, compared to 8,500 tons of garbage taken to the county landfill, which includes many items that could have been recycled.)

In 2013, recycling trucks were painted green and a mascot selected by elementary students in a contest for the ongoing promotional effort.

Recycle promotions
Plastics are the current major environmental concern, since they do not decompose for hundreds of years and can easily make their way into the environment (oceans). 

The market for recyclables has not been favorable for many years, especially in Alabama where few recyclers currently operate.

The city currently receives only about $25,000 annually in return-revenue from sales of recyclables (mostly from paper products).

Paper propducts are sent to Tarpon Paper in Loxley, and the city has begun using  Pensacola's Wise Recycling for everything else: apparently the state of Florida is more supportive of recycling companies.

Since 1989,  residents have been required to sort items themselves into 3 separate containers at the curb.


mascot winner
Specific details are still to be worked out, but after various alternative models used in other cities were studied, Recycling Committee members will  recommend the city council switch to a single-stream/mixed/co-mingled  model next year: all recyclables will be placed into one blue container (to be provided by the city), the same as the current green cans used for garbage.

(The committee plans a presentation for Monday's 4:30PM work session.)

Mayor Kant threw his support behind that model in his state of the city address last February.  (video below)

He had called the service "a mess" in 2013 -- and asked for direction and "hard decisions" from the city council about its future here. 

The committee estimates that change alone could double participation -- from its current 38% to about 78%;  more variety of items should be recycled as well, not just paper/cardboard.

Initially, twice-weekly garbage pick-up will continue (with the additional day for recycling); but eventually it is hoped that only one day will be needed for each service -- since such a large part of most citizen's garbage is now comprised of recyclables.

The cost to the city for dumping garbage in the county's Magnolia landfill should decrease considerably: currently $30/ton or about $250,000/year.

new receptacles
Initital start-up cost for one new automatic (hydraulic arm) truck and cans for all residents will be about $500K --  but savings in tipping fees, increased recycling revenue, and potentially one less pick-up day, would recover that in a few years.

(No longer needing inmates from Loxley Corrections Center (paid $10/day) would save some too.)
New recycling receptacles are to be provided at city facilities and parks as well: some are already installed at the Welcome Center and City Hall.


Because of the high volume of recyclables now being buried at the Magnolia Landfill, the Baldwin County Commission has begun investigating the feasibility of a recylcling facility there, with participation by municipalities.

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