Friday, October 07, 2011

TOP STORY > >Sherwood recycling will start on March 1

Leader staff writer

Sherwood City Council members voted unanimously at a special meeting Thursday to approve an agreement to establish curbside recycling.

Garbage rates will go up by $2.76 a month to cover the city’s cost of participating in the countywide program through an agreement with Pulaski County’s Regional Recycling and Waste Reduction District.

Recyclables will be picked up every other week and the tentative start date for the service is March 1.

“Our residents are looking forward to this,” Mayor Virginia Hillman told the council.

When the rate increase was brought up, she explained that Sherwood subsidizes garbage rates. She said the city has the lowest rates in the county right now.

John Roberts, the district’s executive director, and Wayne Rathbun, business director for Waste Management, fielded questions about the agreement for 30 minutes before the vote.

Rathbun said, “People are looking at green communities. This is a huge step toward Sherwood being a green community.”

One alderman asked how much residents would pay into the program. Rathbun said Waste Management is investing $11 million — $5 million in containers, $2 million in automatic trucks and $4 million to renovate its recycling center into a state-of-the-art facility by using asingle-stream process — into the program for Little Rock, North Little Rock and Sherwood, the three cities enrolled in curbside recycling. Waste Management hopes the rate increase will recoup that investment as well as cover operating cost for actually providing the service.

Rathbun said the reduction of trash going to the landfill might be a little less than the 26,000-ton decrease North Little Rock saw after it joined the program because Sherwood has fewer households than North Little Rock.

Once curbside recycling is in place, two 15-year-old sites—one at East Kiehl Avenue and Lois Lane and one across from The Greens at North Hills on Hwy. 107, where recycled material can be dropped off—will be closed immediately after the program is implemented.

One concern voiced was that elderly or disabled residents might not be able to haul the new 65-gallon cans to the curb. The containers can hold 175 pounds of recyclables.

Roberts assured the council that Waste Management workers could come to the resident’s door, get the can, empty it and return it. The city already has a list of people who require that service for their regular trash pick-up, Hillman said, and Sherwood could share that information with the company.

Another point discussed was the incentive program available to residents who recycle. They can go to a website, enter their zip code and get coupons for local stores and restaurants.

The number of coupons unlocked goes up as the tons of recycled goods increases in their area.

Alderman Ken Keplinger was critical of those “Think Green Rewards.” He said, “I understand we have to have a carrot. But I think our residents would like a discount on their rates instead of what they can find in the back of the phone book.”

Hillman said the incentive program has been successful for other cities. That program costs 25 cents per household each month. Waste Management and the district will each pay half to implement “Think Green Rewards.”

Residents will pay nothing into the rewards program and the cost to the company and district totals $250,000.

Keplinger also asked why the seven-year agreement term was so long. Rathbun said the length of the contract keeps rates lower.

One issue discussed was whether this would eliminate the option of recycling for residents living in apartments.

A solution to that was asking apartment complexes to get an on-site recycling bin.

The curbside program accepts all plastics including children’s toys, newsprint, magazines, junk mail, phone books, aluminum and other metals, cardboard and glass.