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Augusta official likes idea of mandatory recycling

Saturday, May 3, 2014 4:10 PM
Last updated Sunday, May 4, 2014 2:07 AM
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To improve its “horrible” 4 percent recycling rate, one of Augusta’s solid waste supervisors can see a day when residents are forced to include recyclable items with household garbage in order to receive curbside trash service.

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Bill Brown drops off cardboard to be recycled at the Augusta-Richmond County Landfill on Thursday morning.    MICHAEL HOLAHAN/STAFF
MICHAEL HOLAHAN/STAFF
Bill Brown drops off cardboard to be recycled at the Augusta-Richmond County Landfill on Thursday morning.

Similar sanctions are already enforced in large cities such as Seattle, San Francisco and New York. The metro Atlanta city of Griffin has had mandatory recycling since 2007 to recover more of the 5,500 tons of residential waste it disposes of annually and save on landfill and hauling costs.

Last year, Augusta recycled 3,226 tons of the 72,200 tons of residential trash collected, according to city records.
Lori Videtto, the deputy director of Au­gusta Environmental Services, called the 4 percent rate “horrible” last week and said mandatory recycling could one day be a viable option but that the city was not ready for that based on the number of residents who currently recycle.

“If you truly want to get 60, 70, 80 percent diversion, then you need an ordinance and a way to enforce it,” she said. “Without that, you’ll never get there. You won’t get there just on the good hearts of people.”

Augusta has long struggled to match the national recycling rate of 30 percent.

In 2011 and 2012, the city recycled between 2,100 and 2,300 tons of trash, a total that pales next to the nearly 310,000 tons of total solid waste it disposed of in each of the two years.

Last year, Augusta’s recycled weight increased by more than 1,100 tons after the city started offering “recycling perks,” but Videtto said more incentives are needed. The program awards residents points, which can be donated to charity or redeemed for coupons, every time their bin is dumped.

Unlike Aiken County, Au­gusta doesn’t have commercial or industrial recycling programs or convenience centers where residents can drop off conventional waste, such as glass, paper, plastic and aluminum, and hazardous items, including electronics, batteries, tires and used motor oil. These items can be taken to the county landfill, where they are packaged for disposal elsewhere.

With 12 drop-off locations and commercial and industrial programs that generated more than 8,100 tons of recycled materials, Aiken County achieved a recycling rate of 19.2 percent last year, its best percentage since 2009, when it managed 19.3 percent. The county recycled 21,260 tons, compared to the 110,602 tons of solid waste it generated in 2013.

South Carolina’s recycling rate was 31.5 percent last year, according to the state’s annual Solid Waste Man­age­ment Report. Geor­gia’s rate is not known, as a change in law in 2010 no longer required the Depart­ment of Com­mu­nity Affairs to compile annual solid waste reports.

Because Columbia County closed its landfill and privatized all garbage removal in 2006, it no longer has data on nonrecycled solid waste. Statistics from its three recycling locations show totals have been steadily decreasing, dropping from 499 tons in 2011 to 434 tons in 2012 and 397 tons in 2013.

Green Programs Manager Jenny Hinson said Columbia County’s recycling decreased because of a “severe contamination” in plastic recycling containers at its government center in 2012 that resulted in its contractor removing and eventual shuttering the location in 2013.

With containers no longer a viable option, Hinson said Co­lumbia County opened a second recycling center at River­side Park in Evans in Jan­uary 2013 and recently added a baling system to a 4-year-old facility it has on Wil­liam Few Parkway so it could continue to store and sell commodities to a wide-range of buyers.

As a result, she said the county now averages 35½ tons of recyclables a month, which is one ton greater than it averaged in all of 2013.

Rodney Cooper, the solid waste supervisor for Aiken County, estimates that 40 percent of the customers who drive through his department’s dozen drop-off centers are recycling, but said with more public awareness the county could appeal to all people who stop by just to throw away trash.

“We still have 60 percent we need to capture. We could be doing better,” he said. “Some people are die-hard recyclers, but others are old school and don’t see any reason for it. We need to explain to them why recycling is important.”

In making his case, Cooper said his staff combines the items collected at each drop-off site to consolidate trips to the processing facility in North Augusta, saving the county thousands of dollars in hauling costs in its $2.5 million annual budget for waste disposal.

More importantly, he said South Carolina’s solid waste report shows Aiken County, at its current disposal rate of 237,000 tons, has more than doubled the life of its landfill to 154 years. That’s compared to 73 years at its permitted disposal rate of 500,000 tons.

Despite its efforts, Aiken County’s recycling rate ranks 28th out of South Carolina’s 46 counties. Horry County, which includes Myrtle Beach, recycles half of the waste it disposes, and 13 other counties have rates higher than 30 percent. Edgefield and Mc­Cor­mick counties have recycling rates between 7 and 8 percent.

Seattle, a major player in big-city waste recovery, expects to reach a recycling rate of 60 percent by next year, largely because of mandatory collections that even include food waste, according to online reports.

Since Griffin became the only Georgia city to require recycling, residential rates have risen to nearly 20 percent, and between $38,000 and $40,000 has been deferred annually for landfilling and hauling costs, according to reports published on the city’s Web site.

Cooper believes local rates could improve with 600 to 700 people transferring to Fort Gordon in the next five years from the Washington, D.C., area, where recycling is required in many surrounding communities.

Though he thinks required recycling could result in a quicker turnaround, he said some residents might resist.

“When you start mandating things, people tend to push back,” Cooper said. “To me, it would help, but it’s hard to do and something that would need to be implemented over a period of time.”

Videtto agreed with Coo­per that recycling efforts take years to perfect. She said her staff is considering drop-off locations for glass and expanding government-office recycling into a full-fledged program.

Citing the 2,000 additional recycling carts the city issued in the six months after it rolled out its recycling perks program, she said there is excitement in Augusta to reuse materials.

“It is not an easy thing to do,” Videtto said of motivating people to recycle.

AREA SOLID WASTE AND RECYCLING TOTALS

RICHMOND COUNTY SOLID WASTE TOTALS

YEAR SOLID WASTE RECYCLED WASTE

2014* 124,465 tons 745.22 tons

2013 382,954 tons 3,226.09 tons

YEAR SOLID WASTE RECYCLED WASTE

2012 308,523 tons 2,111.49 tons

2011 309,379 tons 2,206.57 tons

* to date

AIKEN COUNTY SOLID WASTE TOTALS

YEAR RECYCLED WASTE DISPOSED WASTE GENERATED WASTE RECYCLING RATE

2013 21,260 tons 89,343 tons 110,602 tons 19.2%

2012 14,199 tons 88,563 tons 102,762 tons 13.8%

2011 16,882 tons 119,761 tons 136,643 tons 12.4%

COLUMBIA COUNTY RECYCLING FACILITIES

YEAR WILLIAM FEW PARKWAY GOVERNMENT CENTER RIVERSIDE PARK

2011 196 tons 303 tons N/A

2012 206.7 tons 227.3 tons N/A

2013 222.5 tons 49.3 tons 125.4 tons

Comments (26) Add comment
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GnipGnop
15462
Points
GnipGnop 05/02/14 - 04:12 am
3
5
thats right folks...

coming soon? A recycle tax....

GiantsAllDay
24009
Points
GiantsAllDay 05/02/14 - 07:57 am
4
9
An easy solution: have the

An easy solution: have the Richmond County Commission pass the following ordinance. "Only those who recycle are allowed to carry guns into churches on Sunday". Then watch the recycle rate go through the roof.

deestafford
73858
Points
deestafford 05/02/14 - 09:08 am
7
5
Yeah, Let's copy cities like NYC, SF, and Atlanta...

Yeah, Let's copy cities like NYC, SF, and Atlanta. While we are at it let's paint a hammer and sickle on the side of the garbage trucks.

creolechick
76
Points
creolechick 05/02/14 - 09:39 am
8
5
Great Idea!

This is a great idea! Everyone keeps complaining about trash pickup 1 day a week not being enough. Well, if everyone filled their recycle container, they would have plenty of room in their garbage can & only need pickup once a week. Trust me, a family of 6 only needs 1 pickup a week when recycling.

reader54
1061
Points
reader54 05/02/14 - 09:57 am
7
6
It is our Planet and our kids

It is our Planet and our kids will inherit it so if you not are too important or busy to responsibly dispose of your waste, then that is on you. I believe that it is a responsible and worthwhile effort. You don't have to be a "tree hugger" to see what plastic has done to our Planet in just 50 yrs. When I see a flotilla of plastic refuse the size of the State of Texas, sloshing around in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, I'm at Peace knowing that I did my part. Please, this is not political. That is, unless the Brain Trust in D.C. feels as though we will just destroy this Rock and hope that future technology will solve all of our shortcomings.

turby2
10
Points
turby2 05/02/14 - 07:59 pm
3
2
Weight vs. Volume

Is the landfill issue really about the volume of garbage rather than its weight. Whatever happened to home trash compactors which used to be pretty common? They reduced a large amount of trash to a much smaller compacted cube which took up less space in a landfill. Do they compact trash onsite at the landfill instead?

burninater
13385
Points
burninater 05/04/14 - 03:20 am
6
9
"Yeah, Let's copy cities like

"Yeah, Let's copy cities like NYC, SF, and Atlanta. While we are at it let's paint a hammer and sickle on the side of the garbage trucks."
------
Recycling = Sovietism? Huh? How is that even intelligible?

Airman
3823
Points
Airman 05/04/14 - 06:56 am
6
4
Recycleing

We are at close to 50% in Fayette County GA. My trash can is always half full on once a week pick up, my recycle been over flows but no matter how much I have they pick it up, my overflow goes in a plastic bag on top of the bin.

Hawaii makes you pay a 5 cent deposit on plastic bottles. They have centers all over the island where you can take them for refunds. If you do not bring your own bags to the grocery store it is three cents for plastic or two cents for paper. I don't remember the statistics but the land fill growth dropped dramatically. We need a program nation wide for recycleing

nocnoc
106440
Points
nocnoc 05/04/14 - 07:21 am
8
2
OK lets say we go 70% recycle in ARC

Will the Commission DISCOUNT our Garbage Service fees?

The Recycle stuff is resold by the waste haulers for BIG $$$$$.
Should that $$$$$ come back to the source (US) minus a small handling and sorting fee?

nocnoc
106440
Points
nocnoc 05/04/14 - 08:13 am
3
3
BTW:

I am sure this has nothing to do with the fact a MAJOR Waste Hauler acquired a GREEN * /Recycling company recently?

Should we expect to see FEE Increases to go with the recycling mandate?

Little Lamb
62917
Points
Little Lamb 05/04/14 - 08:55 am
1
4
Spin

From the story:

In 2011 and 2012, the city recycled between 2,100 and 2,300 tons of trash, a total that pales next to the nearly 310,000 tons of total solid waste it disposed of in each of the two years.

Lori Videtto needs to bring in some of the consultants who are spinning the Obamacare enrollments and spinning the unemployment rate numbers and are spinning the faltering economy numbers. They will be able to get the recycle numbers up significantly without the city having to do anything.

itsanotherday1
72922
Points
itsanotherday1 05/04/14 - 08:58 am
3
3
To not make an effort to

To not make an effort to recycle is plainly irresponsible; but the truth is, it can't be too inconvenient if you expect people to participate.

It can only be a certain type of plastic with a particular code, or cardboard without any food residue. (no pizza boxes, etc.) No lined aluminum cans, blah, blah, blah.

To boot, who has room for multiple trash cans in the kitchen?

justthefacts
48375
Points
justthefacts 05/04/14 - 09:07 am
6
2
IAD

Change is hard, but After a couple weeks you never even think about it anymore. It becomes natural.

Augz79
1083
Points
Augz79 05/04/14 - 10:15 am
3
0
Carrot, not stick

If they are serious about increasing recycle rates, they could start automatically delivering the blue carts instead of making people go out of their way to request one. It won't make people recycle, but it would convert it from an opt-in system to opt-out.

Charging for trash pickup (not not recycle pickup) based on weight would also work, if the robot arms on the trucks have this ability.

gargoyle
28515
Points
gargoyle 05/04/14 - 10:50 am
2
0
Don't want to rain on the

Don't want to rain on the recycle parade but they have put the cart in front of the horse. The things that are being recycled at a high rate have been economically viable such as steel and cardboard. A long term use has to be found and processing facilities must be built before all but a small percentage of what goes in the blue bin stops ending up on the land fill. I think Richmond county ships blue bin waste to South Carolina only at the rate they can handle and sell . To make this work the processing plant has to find a buyer that finds the product viable to use or we are just shifting the piles somewhere else to be put in a land fill . Create a viable demand like steel recycling and the problems will solve themselves.

Dixieman
25000
Points
Dixieman 05/04/14 - 12:07 pm
2
4
Why I live in Columbia County Reason #74

Recycling is a solution in search of a problem. We are NOT running out of landfill space or raw materials. If this starts to happen, the free market will take care of recycling without government compulsion. It is an "I feel good" fraud on taxpayers. Re-read the power-mad bureaucrat's arrogant words and you will see the contempt for the average citizen shining through.

Jake
41195
Points
Jake 05/04/14 - 12:43 pm
4
0
Redwood City provides.....

....us with 3 bins for waste. One small one for trash, one large one for mixed recycle (glass, plastic, paper, etc) and one large one for composting material. In the composting one you can put lawn clippings, small branches, food wastes and paper food containers like pizza boxes and Chinese food take out boxes. Everything is picked up once a week on the same day. It is very easy.
Another thing that is happening in almost all of the Bay Area is everyone bringing their own bags into the stores. If you fail or forget to do so then you are charged a fee for your bag. After a while you get used to having your bag with you when going into a store. Again, very easy.

just an opinion
4460
Points
just an opinion 05/04/14 - 12:49 pm
2
4
Poorer neighborhoods will not recycle

Just ride through on trash day. You'll see.

Gage Creed
28450
Points
Gage Creed 05/04/14 - 01:22 pm
1
1
They struggle to handle the

They struggle to handle the pickup of mixed stream waste as it is.... how will they (Environmental Services) ever be able to handle the pickup of multiple waste streams?

Tannab
11
Points
Tannab 05/04/14 - 01:24 pm
2
1
Education

I think with better education more people would recycle. Some people don't participate because of confusion over what goes where.

Navy Gary
1615
Points
Navy Gary 05/04/14 - 01:25 pm
2
2
"Mandatory"

"Mandatory" anything = Less freedom and more taxes. They want to recycle, make money off of it and have us do their sorting for them. What a deal!...

Tannab
11
Points
Tannab 05/04/14 - 01:45 pm
2
0
Navy Gary

Material recovery from recycling is not as profitable as you may think. Profit margins are a few cents per ton. Think about what it costs to pick up and process a ton of garbage. Waste management is not a get rich quick scheme. Even in California, where they recycle over 70% of their trash, trash haulers have ran flat or at a minus the last two years because of resale price of recovered materials have fallen.

Augusta Gardener
1411
Points
Augusta Gardener 05/04/14 - 02:02 pm
1
1
Recycling is easy & responsible; Perks are great!

We love the Recycling Perks & use them for fun outings. Our family of 2+ people (daily visitors) & 8 cats uses the smaller garbage bin & large recycle bin. We also use two compost bins. Our weekly output fills the recycle bin (cat food cans take up a lot of room), half fills the trash bin, & quarter fills the compost bin.

Folks who haven't been here think we must spend all our time recycling to get those numbers but visitors find it's easy & after a few hours it's automatic. It's all in the set-up. Every room has a second container beside the trash can so it's easy for folks to separate their trash as they use it. The kitchen island has a small compost collection bin & litterbox areas have a third small can for cat waste. Near the kitchen 4 double cans (2-in-1 Recyclers) collect the separate waste streams. We have so many because several types have to be separated out, plus we store shredded paper for compost. The city program doesn't pick up glass, plastic bags, food styrofoam or food waste so we deliver those to the city dump, grocery store or our compost bins when those bins fill up. (daily for compost, every other month for the others)

I love @Augz79's idea to give everyone recycling bins or carts!

As @gargoyle wrote there have to be uses for recyclable materials- plus folks closing the loop by buying those products- for the system to work completely. We buy many post-consumer recycled content products & would love to have more options.

rmwhitley
6379
Points
rmwhitley 05/04/14 - 07:32 pm
0
0
Coming soon:
Unpublished

All conservatives must pay for the hospitalization of unemployed democrats. Oops! obamacare has already been passed in the leftist senate.

WarrenvilleRepublican
161
Points
WarrenvilleRepublican 05/04/14 - 11:03 pm
0
0
Enforcement

Who is going to enforce this new tax, or fine as I read it, Sheriff Roundtree and his deputies? HaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHa

Darby
57053
Points
Darby 05/05/14 - 12:21 pm
2
0
“If you truly want to get 60, 70, 80

percent diversion, then you need an ordinance and a way to enforce it,” she said.

.
First, who says we want what she wants?

How about an ordinance to weed out people like Lori before they get into position to place even more control over our lives?

Bureaucrats, the scourge of working people and the primary obstacle to a working and efficiently functioning government. They seem primarily interested in creating make-work which in turn grows government and at the same time guarantees job security.

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