A consultant told city commissioners Monday that participation in the Nebraska City's recycling program demonstrates an aversion to an extra recycling fee and disbelief that materials in recycle bins stay out of the landfill.
Warren Shuros, client director for Foth Infrastructure & Environment, reported that 87 of the city's 2,662 households are using the bi-weekly curbside recycling pickup, for a percentage of 3 percent.
"I've been doing this type of work for cities for 30 years and this is as low as I've seen it," he said of the recycling participation.
Allied Refuse, who has an exclusive franchise agreement to collect waste in the city limits through Waste Connections, reports about 147 tons of recyclables to Firststar Recycling in Omaha.
Shuros calculates that the city's total waste tonnage is 6,000 tons per year, which means 2 percent is recycled.
"There is a lack of belief that the materials are really recycled," Shuros said.
He said materials are actually recycled, but suggested the use of designated trucks for recycling collection or magnetic signs on trucks indicating the recycling route.
Allied Refuse hauls garbage from the Nebraska City Transfer Station 73 miles to its G&P Development Landfill south of Milford, where tipping fees are $47 a per ton.
Foth reports that City Administrator Joe Johnson indicates that closer landfills may have lower dumping fees.
He said $81,000 a year might be saved by hauling to another landfill.
Lee Wilson, division vice president for Waste Connections, said he generally agreed with many of the main points of the Foth report.
He particularly mentioned the recommendation for a mandatory collection bill placed on all households.
Wilson said the company's business plan is not fixed on landfill tonnage at the expense of recycling programs.Shuros said Allied currently accepts aluminum and steel cans, newspaper and plastic containers.Firststar also accepts tin, paper juice cartons, pizza, pasta and other boxes, envelopes with plastic windows, phone books and magazines.
"More materials could be added to the recycling stream," Shuros said.
Shuros said Nebraska City stakeholders want to improve recycling and expect to have waste management practices that the "Home of Arbor Day" can be proud of.
He suggested weekly collection for recyclables in standardized bins that are obtained or owned by the city.
He said the recycling costs should be figured into the base fee for collection.He also suggested a volume-based fee structure he calls "pay as you throw."
Shuros said higher charges for larger collection carts will encourage people to recycle and reduce the amount of garbage going into the collection carts.
He also suggested that a new contract for garbage collection include the management of a compost station for leaves and grass clippings.
"It seems incongruous with the city's Arbor Day theme to not be composting these wastes in the community," he said.
Page 2 of 2 - He suggested that the mature composted material would be available to citizens at no additional charge.