October 10, 2013 | Vol. 39, No. 41

Comingled pilot program increases recycling rates

Petersburg Public Works Director Karl Hagerman’s co-mingled recycling recommendations to the borough assembly come after a successful trial run that saw recycling rates increase by more than 400 percent this past summer.

The sanitation department along with Petersburg Indian Association ran the six-week pilot project in June and July to get an idea about how participants would judge the comingled bag recycling system.

According to Hagerman’s recycling report, 120 participants were drawn from residents who already recycle. Before the trial, the report states, “recyclers set out an average of 2.3 pounds of material per week. During the trial, that weight jumped to an average of 9.7 pounds per week. This constitutes 420% increase in recycling weight.”

Jason Wilson, Tribal Resource Director for PIA, worked on the pilot program and hopes Hagerman’s recommendations to the council are implemented.

“The co-mingled trial was absolutely incredible because of the ease of the project for the folks,” Wilson said. “Based on the trial we assume it would increase (recycling) rates.”

The report states, based on the trial, Petersburg’s current 10.5 percent recycling rate can increase to 40 percent or higher—more than enough to pay the cost of the program.

Wilson’s said his only concern about the program was risk of glass breaking in the bag and injuring the collectors.

A survey was given to contractor staff and program participants. Ninety-one percent of respondents agreed the pilot program made recycling easier for their household and 88 percent agreed the borough should make a permanent change to a comingled system.

Nine staff worked with the comingled trial and agreed the borough should make the same change and two were unsure. Six supported a bag only system, one was unsure and four don’t support bag only.

Hagerman is preparing to make a formal presentation to the borough assembly and the public to take comments and questions.

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