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Albany panel looking at curbside recycling

ALBANY, Ga. — An effort started more than a year ago to review the city’s solid waste ordinance is gaining traction with the formation of a committee of elected leaders, residents and city officials who will consider, among other things, whether curbside recycling can fit into the mix.

Public Works Director Phil Roberson said that the committee has been meeting during the past few weeks to examine issues raised following nearly a year of research compiled by city staffers, who surveyed garbage and recycling programs across the state.

“Basically we looked at a variety of different programs and ordinances across the state and are hoping to pluck out some of the best practices to update our ordinance and to stabilize the rates and make sure our residents are getting the best bang for the buck,” Roberson said.

The surveys show comparisons by city and service, ranging from whether household garbage is collected to whether ordinances pay for and utilize solid waste code enforcement officers to prevent illegal dumping.

As the committee works through the proposed changes to the city’s ordinance, it’ll likely consider amnesty periods where trash of all shapes, sizes and colors can be dumped in roll-off containers positioned throughout the city.

As far as recycling goes, Albany is one of the few major cities in Georgia currently without a curbside recycling program.

Enter Waste Pro, a $400 million refuse and recycling company that does business in the Southeast — and wants the city’s business in Albany.

The company has pitched its curbside recycling program to city officials. It says it can perform at a cost savings to the city while using an innovative coupon program that will help consumers save money for participating.

“We think that there’s definitely a niche here for recycling and that our program is a good fit,” Waste Pro’s Joel Thornton said.

The challenge to starting a recycling program immediately is that unless the city wants to charge $3-$4 additionally to each ratepayer in the city — and it doesn’t — the city would have to grant Waste Pro a contract for both recycling and household garbage removal. Currently, that household garbage contract belongs to longtime hauler Transwaste.

According to city documents, the commission has agreed to a one-year contract with Transwaste, with a four-year option to renew. Currently, there are two years left, meaning that essentially there are two one-year contracts with Transwaste.

While that contract can be broken without cause with a 90-day notice before July 1, Roberson is hesitant to do so.

“Yeah, we could essentially break the contract and go shopping for another vendor, but that’s not a good business practice and isn’t very business friendly,” Roberson said. “When these people come in, they’ve got to buy millions in equipment that they amortize over the life of the contract. If we were to constantly be switching vendors every year, garbage prices would skyrocket.”

And if a company like Waste Pro can’t get the household garbage contract, the recycling contract would need to be tacked onto utility bills, something city manager James Taylor is unwilling to do.

“I’m an advocate of recycling. I recycle myself. But now is not the time to be adding $3 to $4 per month onto everyone’s utility bill,” Taylor said. “Everyone is struggling and I just don’t think making bills bigger is the answer.”

Even the area’s chief environmentalist, Keep Albany-Dougherty Beautiful Executive Director Judy Bowles, said that the timing is bad on recycling.

“Finding different ways to recycle is a good thing, but I don’t think this is the economic climate to make that switch just yet,” Bowles said. “Down the road, in a year or two, it may be feasible, but I don’t think right now is the best time.”

Roberson said that the committee will consider making curbside recycling part of the Request for Qualifications when the next solid waste contract is considered, but that won’t be until next spring at the earliest.

While Albany has recycling centers, it lacks a curbside recycling pickup service.

Comments

1d2ec 2 years, 8 months ago

One would think that recycling would be more than a few folk going out of their way to recycle a few cans, papers or plastic jugs. Many of these old houses or hotels have very valuable building materials in them and could provide some needed employment to the unemployed and lumber for reuse. No no no lets take a big ole machine and smash them up to little pieces and fill up a dump near a couple of schools. Now that's good thinking.

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TamewRod 2 years, 8 months ago

This is a service that is long overdue for Albany. Surely the city can find a way to make this work.

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dingleberry 2 years, 8 months ago

In the quest for a recycle program that is efficient and cost effective, I hope the Lee/Crisp situation was considered--not working well at all. While recycling is admirable, it generally public subsidies. Without the subsidies, companies like Waste Pro would not exist. I also recall a company that came to town with a new guaranteed proprietary sewage disposal process involving presses and super buggies that would eat up waste and save tons of money. Didn't work of course and the guarantee and our money went into tank with the effluent. Lesson learned?
If you want recycling, be prepared to pay, pay, and pay again. And expect the Garbage and Recycle Enforcement Division the city will set up to pay a visit if paper, plastic, and glass are not properly binned and in violation of the new Ordinance for Curbside Sorting and Placement, similar to the sign ordinance.

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VSU 2 years, 8 months ago

Are we to have separate containers in our back yards and alleys for each recycled product? If so, I don't like it. I don't want 3,4 or 5 containers in my yard or back alley way.

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PatrickY2K 2 years, 8 months ago

You're too lazy to recycle? It's too inconvenient? There may be legitimate reasons that curbside recycling isn't practical, but "too lazy" shouldn't be one of them.

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VSU 2 years, 8 months ago

Patrick, obviously you don't know me very well. I personally carry all my recycled items to the recycling place myself, that includes cans, plastics, newspapers. Just two weeks ago I brought over 200 pounds of old paper to the recycling place. I work two jobs 1 full time and 1 part time that has me working 7 days a week and I keep my yard clean by keeping it mowed, raked etc. I think that hardly puts me in a class of being lazy. Show me in my comment above that indicates I am too lazy to recycle. It looks to me like I said I did not want all these containers cluttering up my yard or alleyway, no where does it say I did not want to recycle.

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tocar 2 years, 8 months ago

I don't want that many containers in my yard either. They get turned over by vandals and makes a mess that allots of seniors cannot clean up because of health reasons. We need recycling stations around at various locations. Those that want to recycle will make the drops at these points. How much is this going to cost the taxpayers?

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waltspecht 2 years, 8 months ago

Simply put, you are going to pay to recycle. You are going to get fined if you don't. That's how it works in most areas where there is an accaptable program. One interesting thing, in neighborhoods where there isn't any profit in fining, Public Housing, the process tends to be ignored completely and the fines and citations never handed out. Another burden on the average good Citizen.

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Cartman 2 years, 8 months ago

Welfare recipients should be required to do community service projects in exchange for their money. One of these projects can be to employ them to sort garbage at the landfill one week per month on a rotating basis. No job skills required. They are being paid anyways. It will also prove to be an incentive to get off welfare. We end up with recycling with no inconvenience to the public. Income from resellable sorted plastic, glass, metal, etc. Longer life (and in the long run, less cost of land procurement) of the landfill since garbage is being taken out. Welfare numbers will drop. No need to pay an outside firm to do what we are already paying for. Win-win all around.

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dingleberry 2 years, 8 months ago

Can you imagine the number of injuries and legal claims as these highly motivated folks get cut by glass and stabbed with drug needles as they dig through the muck? When you take folks that don't want to be there and forcibly inject them into an environment such as a landfill, it will be a total disaster--if you could actually legally make them do it to start with.

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Sister_Ruby 2 years, 8 months ago

I don't know what the big deal is about recycling. If you are committed to it (as my family is) then you collect the glass, plastic jugs, aluminum, cardboard, newspaper, and magazines in separate containers and take them to the convenient drop off locations when they get full at your convenience. No Big Deal.

If they would also start taking metallic cans and paperboard containers, then we would be making some important progress. PLEASE don't start some super expensive collection and separation process that will jack up our current costs just to "employ" more dead weight walking zombies.

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