Petersburg Pilot -

Borough to incentivize recycling


The borough needs more residents to recycle to pay its bills and is developing a new comingled program in an attempt to boost recycle participation.

“Comingled” means recyclers will no longer have to separate their materials into different containers. Karl Hagerman, Director of Public Works, made the recommendation to the borough assembly Monday.

“Comingled recycling is the best way, in my opinion, to increase local recycling rates dramatically over what we’re doing right now,” Hagerman said. “Our current effort of 10.5 percent recycling rate is just not going to cut it as far as stabilizing costs in the long run.”

According to a report Hagerman presented to the borough, the community would need to increase its recycling rate to at least 30 percent to pay for the program. The more the community recycles, the less the borough has to pay for solid waste disposal. And if more than half the community recycled, a goal Hagerman wants to achieve within seven years, the borough would save more than $100,000 a year in solid waste disposal. It would also mean more recycled materials would leave Petersburg on barges than solid waste that would otherwise head to the local landfill.

To meet the initial 30 percent rate in Petersburg, which diverts roughly 760 tons of recyclable material a year from the waste stream, Hagerman wants to develop a curbside residential and commercial program that uses bags to collect recyclables. He also wants to incentivize recycling by increasing garbage rates by 20 percent, about five bucks a month for those who don’t recycle. People who choose to recycle won’t see their rates increase.

“The folks that choose not to recycle for whatever reason would then end up paying higher costs that would help fund the program,” Hagerman said. “The people that are recycling and increasing our aversion rate are doing their part to pay for the system.”

Assembly member John Hoag questioned the use of bags because of how easily they tear and take on water.

Hagerman said cost of going straight to a bag system is much lower than using carts that come with a price tag as high as $80,000. Hagerman also said local contractors don’t have access to the infrastructure needed, like automated trucks, to handle a cart system.

“It would take the contractor out of the equation if we went to carts,” Hagerman said. “The bags keep the contractor involved and also decrease initial capital costs quite a bit.”

According to the report, the borough could purchase carts and use existing trucks or purchase an additional truck in order to make it work. The start-up costs are much higher than using a local contractor to pick up bags. But implementing carts, Hagerman added, is a long-term goal.

The assembly voted unanimously to let Hagerman move forward with his plan.

Hagerman’s next step will be to make a formal presentation to the public and to the assembly, take public comment and questions and incorporate useful suggestions or changes into a final program that would be brought to the assembly for approval November 4. Hagerman wants the new recycling program to be implemented no later than March 31, 2014.

According to the report, materials to be included in the comingled program include all recyclable plastics with the exception of Styrofoam and plastic bags, rinsed food containers, tin cans, aluminum cans, junk mail, catalogs, phone books, newspapers, magazines, office paper, unbroken glass bottles and jars and broken down cardboard.


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