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Allied Waste: Recycling could save $210,000-plus
The company that's in the running to operate Yuma's potential curbside recycling program says it could save the city at least about $210,000 a year.
And that's a conservative estimate, added Allied Waste general manager Derek Ruckman.
The city is in negotiations with Allied Waste to collect cans, paper, glass and plastics from curbside bins once a week, with regular trash pickup reduced from two days a week to one.
But the Yuma City Council remains split on the issue, and Ruckman said challenges from other members of the public cool to the idea of adding the service have encouraged him to prepare answers to some “frequently asked questions” in response.
To one of the chief concerns, that implementing citywide recycling would add cost to the city or residents, he said the initiative is a money saver.
Allied Waste would cover the upfront cost of 21,000 96-gallon bins for recyclables — at $46 each, an investment of about $966,000. Also, by company estimates, diverting recyclables from the landfill would save hundreds of thousands of dollars in “tipping fees.”
Ruckman said a relatively low collection of 6,200 tons per year, at about $28 per ton, would save $174,000 in tipping fees. He said a planned revenue share program — or a rebate — could also add back about $35,000 at 6,000 tons.
In other commonly raised concerns:
• “Will I have enough room for my trash if I get one pickup per week for my trash and one per week for my recycling?”
Ruckman said that a sampling of local residential trash containers showed that on average, only 78 percent are set out full, and 15 percent aren't put out twice per week. In other words, there's wiggle room with carts that currently contained mixed trash and recyclables.
Also, the infrastructure exists — albeit not in Yuma. Allied Waste has a processing center already up and running in El Centro.
• ”Not having twice a week trash collection will result in hot and smelly trash.”
Putting “wet” garbage, such as food scraps and pet droppings, in plastic bags and closing the bags with rubber bands or twist ties should take care of that problem, Ruckman said. He said other hot-weather cities with once-weekly trash collection, like Mesa and Phoenix, have found little or no odor or fly problem when the most potentially offensive trash is securely bagged and tied. Customers can also wash out their bins as needed.
• ”Why can't residents recycle individually or voluntarily?”
By taking advantage of economies of scale, and collectively leveraging the community's material, Allied Waste can make the investment in bins and minimize the cost.
• “There is too much government control and I don't want the city telling me what to do.”
“The city is responsible to the residents of Yuma to maintain the health and safety of the public,” reads Ruckman's FAQ. “The city of Yuma is responsible for providing oversight for agreements and contracts.
“Trash and recycling is a service that by law has to be self-funding within the enterprise fund for Yuma. If the trash and recycling costs rise, the resident's rates must rise to pay for the service. Increasing landfill costs and fuel costs determine the cost for trash collection. If recycling diverts 25 to 30 percent, the city and residents receive a reduction and cost-control measures.”
The Yuma City Council voted in August to allow the city administrator to negotiate a contract for recycling services with Allied Waste, the winning bidder. Still, the action doesn't commit the city to a recycling program, and the council remains divided over whether to proceed with curbside recycling. Various surveys quizzing residents on whether they would support a recycling program have failed to provide clear direction.
Ruckman said the pendulum seems to be swinging in recycling's favor, although he doesn't want to sound presumptuous. He said he'd be willing to talk with anybody about the economics.
“I want to make sure I have the community support,” he said.
Hillary Davis can be reached at email@example.com or 539-6857. Find her on Facebook at Facebook.com/YSHillaryDavis or on Twitter at @YSHillaryDavis.