Before Waste Management puts forward a curbside recycling program for Winslow residents, City Council decided that they would like to hold a series of town hall meetings to hear from residents before deciding on the issue.
Waste Management Marketing Manager Kathy Mitchell, came to Council last week with a proposal for recycling in the Winslow community.
Currently, residents have one bin or toter that may be filled with trash and picked up twice a week. Waste Management is proposing giving residential homes another toter for throwing in all recyclable items together like aluminum, cardboard, newspaper and plastics ‹ referred to as single stream or commingling. This recycling bin would be picked up once a week, and regular trash pick up would be reduced to once a week pick up. This is the system currently being used in Flagstaff, and to begin doing so in Winslow would cost each home an additional $4.32 per month, according to Waste Management.
By joining with other Arizona communities participating in this program, Winslow could help the state meet the federal Environmental Protection Agency recycling goals. The EPA has asked states to recycle at least 35 percent of their waste by 2008; however, Arizona has fallen short. This has been attributed to lack of legislative action and lack of public participation and concern.
Councilwoman Stephanie Lugo said that residents have approached her with concerns about not having enough recyclables and too much trash, and also that the elderly would have trouble with having two bins.
"If people do recycle thoroughly, they can reduce their output one to one," Mitchell said.
This meaning that through recycling consistently, about half the trash typically generated could be recycled and a twice a week pick up would then be unnecessary.
Winslow resident Ellie Meritt said that her concern was that there are many elderly like her or those who live alone that produce so little trash and already voluntarily recycle. She said these people only have their trash picked up once a month and that they still pay as much as someone who fills their garbage twice a week. Neither the City nor Waste Management said anything about rewarding people who use less, but it was stated that households may opt for keeping twice a week trash pick up and having a recycling pick up too.
Councilman Harold Soehner asked if there is a size option for these recycling bins and Mitchell said there are smaller ones available.
Town Hall meeting dates will be announced at the first Council meeting in October and then these public meetings will be held to let the City Council know what public concerns there are regarding this recycling proposal. Council expects to act this input and come to a final decision on a city recycling program in February.
Commingled recycling makes recycling very easy for people, Mitchell said.
"Studies have shown that where there was a 10-11 percent participation rate when people had to separate their materials, but when they switched to commingled bins, participation increased to 30-35 percent," she said.
Councilwoman Judy Howell asked if people can choose to not be in the recycling program or if people can choose not to have trash picked up, but it was determined that trash service is mandatory for residences and businesses.
"We are at the point now where we need to buy more community recycling bins to haul to Norton Environmental in Flagstaff or we can go with a commercial hauler like Waste Management," said Winslow Utility Director Allen Rosenbaum.
By giving commingle recycling bins to each home, the amount of recyclables collected would drastically increase over the amount collected currently with the community bins, according to Mitchell.
Under the inter-governmental agreement with Flagstaff, any recyclable material sent from Winslow will be separated at the Norton facility, regardless of how much or often Winslow decides to send it there. The city of Winslow is contracted to receive a rebate of 40 percent of the value of any materials collected from Winslow by Norton. The expected increase in rebates from a curbside-recycling program will help pay for it, and is why the cost is only $4.32 a month more.
"Everyone needs to know that recycling is not free, but the more people recycle out here, the more they can send to Norton to offset the processing fees," Mitchell said.
Rosenbaum said that one thing people could consider is that it costs $450,000 to lay a mandated liner underneath 2 acres of landfill and that by removing 50 percent of the waste sent there, people can keep trash rates lower by extending the life of the landfill.