Editorial: Thank You Council For Working On Recycling

By / Editorials / Wednesday, 24 January 2018 04:19


Managing Editor

Thank you to Carolina Beach Town Councilman Steve Shutteworth and the entire Town Council for addressing the need for increased recycling pickup during the Council's January 18th, meeting. (See report on page 1-A)

Several years ago the Town replaced small recycling containers with larger blue recycling carts. The point of recycling is to reduce the waste stream and divert a large portion of it towards recycling rather than the landfill. In Carolina Beach the pickup schedule is twice a month.

At my house we recycle and our blue recycling cart is commonly filled up after a week and then sits there packed for another week until it's picked up. Sometimes we have to put items in the trash that we would have recycled because we can't let them sit in an overflowing plastic bin in the kitchen for a week. The only alternative is to pack the recyclables in the trunk of the car and drive into Wilmington to dispose of them at the Moose Lodge on Carolina Beach Road.

Recycling should be a weekly pickup at no additional charge. The waste hauler makes money off recycling the materials and the life of a the landfill is extended because the volume (tons) of garbage is reduced. Space isn't unlimited at the landfill and recycling helps to divert recyclable materials rather than filling it up faster over the long term and forcing taxpayers to fund (and argue over) creating a new landfill or expanding the existing one.

In terms of cost, in a Town like Carolina Beach where the population drastically fluctuates depending on the season, the Town bills residential properties (full time, part time and vacation rentals) at the same rate regardless of whether or not they pack a trash can or recycling bin.

In the winter months many rental properties generate hardly any refuse or recyclable materials. Yet in every case the billing rate remains the same. So during the off season months, the Town bills the same as the busy summer months but the cost to haul garbage to the landfill and recyclables to a recycling center is reduced. Not to mention that since the Town implemented using the new blue recycling bins, the hauler (Waste Industries) has switched to new trucks that require only one operator using a mechanical arm to grab cans and tip them into a container that is lifted to dump into the rear of the truck. So it requires one person rather than a driver and a person clinging to the side of a truck to pull the cans up to be dumped into a truck. That equals one less employee per truck which should equate to savings on hourly wages, potential workmans comp claims, insurance, etc. Why hasn't the Town enjoyed a reduction in cost? 

Councilman Shuttleworth raised the issue at the January 18th, meeting after hearing feedback from residents that twice a month pickup leaves them with a packed recycling cart sometimes after a week's time because they are diverting recyclables from the waste stream. 

Town Manager Michael Cramer said that is a topic they planned to address when the contract with Waste Industries expires in December 2018 and the Town will solicit bids from multiple contractors. 

Shuttleworth asked for something to be done in the interim  rather than wait a year and for Cramer to bring a proposal back to Council in the near future. The Town Council should examine the numbers on how much material is now diverted from the landfill due to recycling and consider asking the contractor to increase recycling pickups free of charge, or, for a small fee increase. Any fee increase should be justified and supported with data. The one thing we don't need to hear from the contractor is that they are not making profit on recycling materials.



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