City Council discusses ‘opt-out’ options for curbside recycling

ST. GEORGE – Options for curbside recycling were discussed by the St. George City Council Thursday night as the county’s Solid Waste District considers implementing the service. The primary issue concerned what type of opt-out option city residents could expect if the program is implemented.

The council ultimately favored an opt-out plan that gives residents an additional chance to opt-out if they move to a new home within the city. However, new move-ins from out of town would be automatically enrolled in the service.

The county is currently considering curbside recycling bids from Republic Services and Dixie Waste Services. The cost for the service is estimated to be just under $4 a month.

Three options

Three possible options were given to the municipalities by the Solid Waste District as to how opt-outs for the program could set up, which Mayor Jon Pike outlined for the council.

The first option would provide city residents with a one-time chance to opt-out over a 60-90 day period. If you don’t respond within that amount of time, you’re automatically in, Pike said. The curbside service would also stay with the address of the residence where it began, so move-ins are automatically enrolled as well.

This option received little love from council members.

The second option was similar to the first, Pike said, with the exception that it would allow individuals who live within St. George a second opportunity to opt-out of the program if they move into a new home within the city.

A third option gave residents the chance to opt out on an annual basis.

While that option provides a lot of flexibility, it could also be “an accounting nightmare,” Councilman Gil Almquist said.

“We think No. 3 would be difficult to administer,” said Deanna Brklacich, head of the Administrative Services Department, adding she found option No. 2 to be much more preferable. “I think No. 2 would be doable,” she said.

The numbers

Last year, Washington County diverted over 1,700 tons from the county landfill through recycling, said Larry Gibbons, of Rocky Mountain Recycling. That number, which represents Washington County, has been steadily increasing since 2011 when 1,443 tons of recyclable waste diverted from the landfill.

That number only represents 3 percent of the “municipal solid waste,” or MSW, the county produces, Gibbons said. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, up to 65 percent of MSW is recyclable.

Should the county choose to go to curbside recycling and the municipalities follow suit, Gibbons said, the amount of annual MSW recycled could jump to 11,000 tons. It could also add 10 or more years to the life of the county landfill.

Based on what he has seen in other cities around the country with their curbside recycling programs, he told the council that a mandatory program is the best avenue to take.

“A mandatory program for maximum diversion is the best way to go I feel,” Gibbon said.

Still, the City Council wasn’t in favor of an outright mandatory program.

“We want people to do this because they want to do this,” Councilman Jimmie Hughes said.

Gibbons said areas that had introduced curbside recycling with easy opt-out programs like option No. 3 had decreasing participation. By contrast, the other options would boost participation over time.

Rocky Mountain Recycling is a potential bidder for the city’s recyclables once a curbside system is set up. The company already has a recycling plant in Southern Utah as well.

Favor for option no. 2

“We like option No. 2,” Pike said following a united show of hands in support by the City Council. “Once the Solid Waste District agrees to all of this and awards a contract, (residents) have a one-time chance to opt-out during that (60-90 day) period of time, then they’re out. They don’t have to do it.”

While new move-ins to St. George won’t have an opportunity to opt-out, someone who already lives in St. George and moves to a new location within the city will have a new chance to opt out if they so choose, Pike said.

Members of the City Council – all of whom sit on the county’s Solid Waste District’s board – will present their support for option No. 2 to the district for consideration in its upcoming March 2 meeting. Representatives from the county’s other municipalities, who also sit on the board, will submit their city’s favored opt-out option as well.

It was also noted that city residents already pay for recycling services as a part of their monthly utility bills. That charge is associated with the many recycling bins seen and used throughout the city.

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  • NotSoFast February 20, 2015 at 12:06 pm

    Additional suggestion: Some communities put a recycling fee on various items when purchased (i.e. aluminum cans) for additional tax fund income. (5-10 cents/ can) Then when purchaser save up a large amount of such items in their garage, they stop by a recycling stop and get a reimbursement per item.
    A side business for trash collectors.

  • KarenS February 21, 2015 at 7:20 am

    I applaud the Mayor and City Council for getting the ball rolling for curbside recycling. We use the binnies consistently but would be more than happy to pay a measly $4 a month for the convenience of curbside recycling. It is the responsible thing to do.

  • My Evil Twin February 27, 2015 at 4:53 pm

    I certainly have no problem with the 48 bucks a year for this project. But as we all know, once it is implemented, the costs to us will go up. They will have to. Even so, I believe it is time for this to happen, and for it to be county wide.
    Something that hasn’t been mentioned by anyone, at least that I have seen, is the small amount of savings from not having the binnies to keep maintained, costs associated with the driver and truck to empty them, etc. I’d be interested in seeing some figures on this.

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