Wednesday, April 11, 2012

TOP STORY >> Sherwood recycling kicks off

Leader staff writer

Sherwood is already enjoying high participation rates in its curbside recycling program, which launched on Monday, according to Brian Galloway, the city’s public works director.

“Just about everyone is doing it,” he said.

David Steinmetz of Waste Management agreed. He said he didn’t have official numbers for the participation rate yet, but it was going well.

“Through the first two days, it’s beyond what anyone had imagined. It’s nuts. Everybody is participating, it seems like. Sherwood is really participating,” he said.

The new program isn’t without hiccups though. Galloway said residents are placing their regular containers and the recycling containers right next to each other on the curb instead of at least three feet apart.

The automatic trucks need that space for the mechanical arm to get the cans. Waste Management is using one truck on most days, and two trucks on a couple of days, to complete the pick up of the recycling containers. Each truck has one driver.

Galloway said city workers have labeled some of the containers to warn residents about the three-foot requirement.

Steinmetz said Waste Management employees are also labeling the cans.

Also, there was some confusion about when the recyclables will be picked up.

Galloway said the city had signs out saying the program started Monday and many residents thought every container in the city would be picked up that day.

In smaller print, the banners say the recycling containers will be picked up every other week on the same day trash is picked up.

So that means only residents who had Monday as their regular trash day got their recycling containers picked up on the first day.

Galloway said, “The vast majority of the feedback has been positive. The majority of the feedback is (that) people are really excited. The negative has been some who don’t want to recycle. They’ve been few and far between.”

Sherwood residents are paying an increase of $2.76 — $14.76 compared to $12 a month — to cover the cost participating in the countywide recycling program. The higher rates will start appearing on their April or May bills.

The city entered into an agreement with Pulaski County’s Regional Recycling and Waste Reduction District for the curbside recycling knowing that fees would go up.

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 a single-stream process — into the program for Little Rock, North Little Rock and Sherwood, the three cities enrolled in curbside recycling.

Galloway said the unique thing about the recycling was the single-stream process, which requires no sorting.

Waste Management hopes the rate increase will recoup its investment as well as cover the operating cost for actually providing the service.

The new 65-gallon recycling cans hold up to 175 pounds.

Waste Management workers will come to the door, get the can, empty it and return it for residents who are elderly or disabled and can’t haul the containers to the curb.

Residents who recycle 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.

This incentive program, “Think Green Rewards,” costs 25 cents per household each month.

Waste Management and the district will each pay half for the incentive program. Residents will pay nothing into the rewards pro-gram and the cost to the company and district is $250,000.

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