The Petersburg Public Works Sanitation Department will introduce a new and improved recycling program to the community called commingled recycling.
This commingled recycling program will accept a wide range of materials all bagged together. This new program will be running in Petersburg as a trial for the next six weeks.
“This program is an extension of our solid waste contract,” Petersburg Public Works Director Karl Hagerman said. “As part of that contract we have pricing for the shipping and processing of recyclables and before we were kind of just doing that on our own.”
According to Hagerman, the program could stabilize shipping costs and will enable the department to know what all the costs will be.
“The more we recycle the less is in the waste stream,” Hagerman stated. “The waste stream costs the Borough $107 per ton and if we do this right the recycling costs will be significantly less.”
The big picture of the waste in Petersburg is either garbage or recyclables.
“The more recyclables we have, the less we are spending on solid waste disposal,” Hagerman explained. “I really wanted to do something to bump up our recycling program. While discussing this program with Petersburg Indian Association and my staff, one of them suggested doing a trial run of the program to work out all of the problems before implementing it.”
He said it has taken a very long time to get it to this point but it will begin with one group of customers to keep it manageable.
“This could eventually turn into a larger program and we can't handle that at this time,” Hagerman said. “We didn't want to overwhelm PIA and the general idea was to work with the Wednesday route and all of these customers are volunteers for the program.”
At first, the Sanitation Department was looking to put out more cans for this trial but it would have been more labor and cost intensive to put them out and then collect them after the trial was over.
Every year the department is furnished yellow bags from a company called Alpar for garbage collecting in public areas and recycling. These yellow bags will be used for this trial period in order to keep costs low.
“PIA will collect the bags and take them to a central location and sort it all before it can be baled,” Hagerman said. “It is some extra effort that will be worthwhile in the end.”
This program will allow the department to collect data on the weight of the recyclable materials and they can compare it to the data they have on hand in order to see what costs can be saved due to the program, along with decreases on the garbage side as well.
“The other challenge that we have had to deal with is we are including glass in this trial,” Hagerman said. “We recycle glass now, but we do it here and it goes into our landfill, not to the recycler. This way, we will be sending it out to be recycled and it will be taken out of town and will not take up space in our landfill.”
Surveys will be filled out after the program is over in order for the department to evaluate the permanence of the program.
The trial will begin June 5 and run through July 10 for the customers that have their garbage collected on Wednesdays.
Materials that can be included in the commingled recycling program are: plastics including milk, water, juice and pop bottles and items with a narrow neck, detergent and fabric softener bottles and yogurt, dairy and margarine tubs; glass including jars and bottles of any color; aluminum and tin including beverage cans and food cans; paper and packaging including newspaper and advertising inserts, advertising mail and envelopes, magazines, catalogs and phone books, juice boxes and milk cartons and flattened cardboard.
Things that cannot be included with recycling are plastic eating utensils and takeout containers, styrofoam and packing peanuts, plastic coated paper and cardboard, mirrors, window glass, ceramics, dishes and non-mercury containing light bulbs, aluminum foil wrap and trays, empty aerosol spray cans, sharp or greasy metal and small appliances.
“We are very excited about this program,” Hagerman said. “This could free up a lot of money for the department and provide a great service to the community.”