Pilot recycling plan pitched to leaders

Published 9:00 pm Thursday, February 9, 2012

Brookhaven residents can give recycling ago if city leaders accept a pilot program offered by WasteManagement.

    Waste Management Representative Seren Ainsworth met with somealdermen and Mayor Les Bumgarner Wednesday afternoon to discussrecycling options Waste Management provides. Waste Managementcurrently holds the city’s garbage disposal contract.

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    Ainsworth offered a recycling pilot program free of charge to thecity, to run from several months to a year.

    Under the program, several recycling containers would be placedthroughout the city. As the containers fill up, the material wouldbe transferred to a central dumpster. From there, Waste Managementwould transport the recycled material to a processor inJackson.

    Ainsworth recommended the recycling receptacles be placed at firedepartment precincts as theyre are staffed around the clock andlocated throughout the city.

    The recycling receptacles would be what Ainsworth called a singlestream system. Recyclable materials such as paper, cardboard,plastic and aluminum could all be placed in a single bin withoutbeing sorted.

    However, glass cannot be recycled in a single stream system. Onceglass breaks it cannot easily be separated from the other materialsin a single stream recycling system.

    Ward Six Alderman David Phillips, Ward Four Alderman Shirley Estesand Ward Two Alderman Terry Bates, members of a city boardcommittee studying recycling, were present to hear Ainsworth’spresentation and all expressed interest in the free pilotprogram.

    Ainsworth also discussed more long-term recycling programs WasteManagement offers, such as curbside pickup.

    With the pilot program, Ainsworth said citywide participation ratesof 15 percent or so would be considered good. To get aboveparticipation rates of 15 or possibly 25 percent, a curbsideprogram would be necessary, said Ainsworth.

    “We live in a society of convenience,” Ainsworth said. “If you canmake it convenient to recycle, that’s the key to getting yourparticipation high.”

    Phillips noted the pilot program would help the city prepare for amore permanent recycling program.

    “We have to walk before we can run,” Phillips. “This would be agood way to start with a curbside program as our goal.”

    The location of the recycling receptacles in the pilot programremains an undecided point, with some aldermen pointing out thefire department precincts are not evenly spread throughout thecity.

    Bumgarner also expressed concern about residents dumping trash intothe recycle bins. He said a way to secure the bins should bedevised.

    Recycling can save the city money by reducing the amount of wastethe city must pay to have disposed.

    In October 2011, Waste Management increased its pick-up rates from$12.10 to $12.59 per unit and its disposal rates from $38.81 to$40.39 per ton. The increases were allowed under the terms of WasteManagement’s contract with the city due to rising gas prices.

    Phillips has been a longtime advocate of recycling in Brookhaven,but the rate hikes increased interest about the idea among theboard.

    At the board’s Jan. 17 meeting, Mark Williams with the Departmentof Environmental Quality discussed municipal recycling programswith the board.

    According to material provided to the board by Williams,Mississippi generates 3 million tons of municipal solid wasteannually and 8 millions tons overall. Also, 47 percent of thestate’s population has access to recycling programs, compared to 86percent of the U.S. population.

    Williams told the board a city makes money from recycling by thereduction in its garbage disposal rates and by selling its recycledmaterial.

    In their appearances before the board, Williams and Ainsworth bothemphasized the importance of education for a successful recyclingprogram.

    Ainsworth also noted recycling may eventually be inevitable.

    “We can’t keep filling up landfills,” he said.