New recycling program considered
By: Tammy Rollie
| Posted: Wednesday, Apr 16, 2014 11:23 am
A foothills town is looking for the best option to get residents recycling after materials collected at its recycling facility dropped in half over just two years.
Turner Valley town planner Matthew Atkinson is recommending the Town partner with Black Diamond to develop an in-house curbside recycling program after the town experienced a drop from 406 tonnes of recyclable material in 2011 to 209 last year.
Atkinson told town council at its committee of the whole meeting on April 7 that the program is expected to cost almost $125,000 annually and appears to be the best option for keeping recyclables out of the landfill.
“People are more likely to make recycling a part of their day if it’s easier to access,” he said. “The increase in recycling reduces the amount that’s going to be garbage so it would reduce the bi-monthly cost for garbage. The overall increase would only be eight dollars every two months.”
Residents currently bring their recyclables to the Town’s recycling facility and sort it into respective bins. It is then shipped to an outside recycling facility.
Atkinson said it costs on average $158,788 annually to operate the facility and the volume of material is steadily declining due to lack of participation and residents using private recycling programs. In addition, only $7,000 was made from recyclables in 2013 because of the increase in fees and reduction in materials, he said.
Another problem with the current practice is the Town is struggling to find a market for plastic, said Atkinson. Plastic has been stored at the regional landfill south of Okotoks for 11 months due to a lack of market and brokers charging a tipping fee, he said.
“Sometimes instead of us actually making money off of the sales we actually have to pay for that,” he said.
“If there is no market for these recyclables in the future the Town of Turner Valley will be forced to bury the plastic in the landfill or pay to haul these into the city and pay the tipping fees associated with it.”
Atkinson told council more communities are switching to a single stream system so citizens don’t have to sort their recyclables. Instead, all of the recyclables are collected in one vehicle and sorted at the recycling centre.
He estimates the Town’s participation in a single stream curbside program would increase recyclable volume to 483.5 tonnes in its first year, based on reports of the same service in other communities.
Coun. Barry Williamson said he is concerned with the curbside option as some residents already pay companies for curbside pick up and that would mean less recyclables for the Town’s system.
Atkinson said the Town can either source the program to an outside agency or operate it in-house with its own employees and vehicle, with the material shipped to a Calgary recycling facility.
The cost for an in-house recycling program is estimated at just under $125,000 annually, with half covered in billing revenue if the Town increases its bimonthly recycling fee from $11 to $22, and reduces the garbage bill from $18 to $15. The amount includes a $70 per ton tipping fee charged by the recycling facility.
If the Town approves this option it would be required to purchase a recycling truck, estimated at $251,000 and the cost would be spread out over seven years. No estimates have been made on the cost of outsourcing the service.
Coun. Dona Fluter said her concern is that there is little to no monetary value for recyclable materials anymore.
“There is no market for some of these products,” she said. “I want to understand how the province is going to deal with recyclables to make it a viable market.”
Fluter said the Town should look into a recycling system at the regional landfill south of Okotoks as a partnership with neighbouring communities.
“We have the land and likely financial capability with all the municipalities that belong to the landfill,” she said.
Atkinson said this option is a future possibility and could be considered.
“The main consideration is to ensure that the system we adopt aligns with future plans,” he said.
The least expensive option would be operating a large recycling bin for residents to bring their materials to, and have the recyclables shipped and sorted at a Calgary recycling facility, Atkinson said.
Although it would only cost $44,322.50 annually, he said it would not generate the same level of employment as the current system and is not expected to increase the amount of material recycled.
“We do want to increase recycling in the community and we don’t feel that the large bin would increase the same amount of as the door to door pickup,” he said. “Volumes would remain similar to what they are now.”