Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Recycling Committee Stands By 'Single Stream' Model

Fairhope, Al.

SPECIAL MEETING HELD                               
Sept. 30th meeting

At a special meeting last week, the city's recycling committee heard updates from the mayor and public works personnel concerning recent developments -- but ultimately decided to stick with its previous recommendation for the city to shift next year from the current sort-at-curb model to a simpler single-stream (aka mixed) model where all recyclable items will be put in one new container (to be issued to citizens at no cost) instead of requiring sorting curbside.

The cost of the containers (about $168K for 4 thousand) will have to be included in next year's budget which is now under consideration by the city council.

Mayor Kant had endorsed the single-stream plan in his state of the city address earlier this year; but since then the "market" for recyclables has dropped significantly, due largely to deteriorating economic conditions in China where many of the items were being processed.

Christmas parade
Also, he said he had since visited cities around the country to watch various single-stream models in action (Phoenix, AZ.) -- and was cautioned about being sure of a reliable place to take the materials collected from residents.

He was also advised it would be difficult (if not impossible) to return to requiring citizens do curbside sorting once the far-simpler method of mixing it all together in one blue can was introduced.

Currently there is only one company that accepts the mixed materials, located in Loxley: and it could change its policies (or fees) at any time -- depending on the market.

"Contamination" with garbage (food wastes)  is  also a major concern for the private recycling companies, according to the mayor.

'Recycle Rascal' mascot

Some other options discussed by the committee:

* Continue the service as is.

* Continue sorting at the curb;  but provide individual container to
   residents at no cost.

* Mix most items together, but keep one (or two) separate (ie. paper)

* Have a private company provide the service.

* Make the change to single stream, but prepare other options for processing it.


participation encouraged
After a lengthy discussion, since the number one goal of the committee has always been to maximize recycling participation by the public, it was unanimously decided to recommend the city council proceed with the last option, but be prepared should the sole local recycler (in Loxley) no longer be available (or charge more for the service).

Single stream should also significantly reduce per-ton current "tipping fees" charged to the city by the county's Magnolia Springs landfill -- and could lead to a reduction to once-weekly garbage pick-up, saving the city more dollars. 

If the current recycler becomes unavailable,  a 'plan b' may be needed: that may involve stockpiling the material for a time until market conditions improve (Pecan Ave. warehouse?) -- or the city looking at going into the recycling business itself by forming a MRF (possibly a 'Recycling Authority') with participation by the county and other municipalities.

That may involve purchasing the necessary equipment, like shredders, balers, crushers, special vehicles, etc. -- and seeking permission to "break-up" glass, currently prohibited by state law according to member Gary Gover.


Elizabeth Tonsmeire, who worked on the subcommittee that came up the the single-stream proposal along with Ana Miller, advised that a professional media campaign to explain it to the public was essential to the plan's success: she was told money would be available for that when the time comes and it would also be promoted by city publications (ie. City Sketches), social media, etc.

Also, committee chairperson Nancy Anderson plans to continue promoting the service at city events, parades, games, etc. -- and in the local schools through their environmental clubs.

[Baldwin county has stopped recycling services in schools due to budgeting constraints, but the city is collecting some items from the ones here (cardboard, paper).]

City committees can only make recommendations: the city council must make the final decision by majority vote.

Rich Mueller and Mike Ford are the city council's representatives on  the recycling committee.


Anonymous said...

Even if the single stream does not work out the big blue cans can still be used for recycling one item.

Let it fill up and only have to take it to the street once a month maybe.

Anonymous said...

you can't even get some people to put trash in a can , people are LAZY and expect everyone else to pick up after them. I really don't think people will put only recycles in the can .

Anonymous said...

you can't fix lazy people! just go look at the bay or the ball park .