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Recycling program officially under way

A citywide recycling program officially kicks off today, and officials are optimistic about its success after several weeks of a successful soft start.

     “We haven’t had any kinks or problems,” said Ward Six Alderman David Phillips. “The areas are staying clean. People are for the most part doing it right.”

     Two recycling bins have been in place and available for recyclables since July 15. In that time, Phillips said the bin at Central Fire Station on Brookhaven Street has been filled up and dumped twice, while the receptacle at Fire Station No. 2 on Willard Street is nearing capacity and ready to be emptied.

     The level of participation so far has been in line with expectations set for the city by Waste Management, which indicated one bin filled a week would be normal, Phillips said.

     All the city’s advertising and promotional material have highlighted that the program officially begins Aug. 1. Therefore, with strong participation in the soft start, Phillips thinks recycling will only pick up, particularly this week.

     “I’ve had people tell me they didn’t know they could already start,” Phillips said.

     An initial spike, though, may be followed by a slight drop off.

     “We feel like we’ll get a surge and then it will slow down,” Phillips said. “We’ll be monitoring it through the weekend and see what the surge is.”

     Phillips anticipates that some individuals and groups may have begun saving recyclable materials already, which may further cause a surge and retreat in recycling activity.

     In anticipation of increased use of the bins, Phillips said the city will place several overflow receptacles at the Central Fire Station location in case use of the bin initially outpaces the city’s ability to have it emptied.

     The soft start was intended to sort out any problems, but Phillips has been pleased to report none seen so far.

     A major concern had been that people would dump trash into the recycling receptacles, but that hasn’t happened yet. Phillips said he’s found one or two glass bottles, but that’s all.

     Paper products (including magazines and cardboard), aluminum and steel cans and some plastic bottles can all be placed into the either of the two recycling bins.

     Plastic bottles and containers labeled (usually near the bottom) with a “1” or a “2” can be recycled by the city.

     Other types of plastic cannot be accepted right now. Glass cannot be accepted, either.

     Once the bins are full, Waste Management will empty them and haul off the recyclable material to a recycling center in Sumrall and sell it.

     Waste Management has told the city a 10 percent initial participation rate in Brookhaven’s recycling program is likely. That’s about 500 to 700 households, said Phillips.

     Waste Management will track the tonnage collected so the city can calculate the impact of recycling on its trash disposal costs.