Curbside recycling program needs more participants

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By Donna Williamson
Opelika Observer

The city of Opelika, with the help of Keep Opelika Beautiful, will begin offering single stream curbside recycling in the fall of this year. According to Terry White, Solid Waste Director, the goal is to offer a full-service recycling center on Jeter Street and to begin curbside pick-up in October.
White said curbside recycling will encourage the citizens of Opelika to embrace the concept of recycling.
“Curbside recycling will encourage those who don’t recycle to start and will make it even easier for those who already do,” he explained.
Currently, around 370 people have signed up, which is short of the 1,000 needed. However, White said he thinks the goal is attainable.
“This is summer, and many people are on vacation. We want to work through the schools and send home information to parents. When school starts, more people will sign up,” White said.
KOB jump-started the program by donating $24,325 to buy the first 500 recycling carts. “The people involved with KOB are big recyclers and they have a great interest in having a successful recycling program,” White said. “KOB, by helping get the program started, gives its stamp of approval, which is real important.”
According to Tipi Miller, KOB executive director, the KOB Board of Directors elected to purchase these 500 containers so that households can receive a recycling cart at no charge and keep the monthly fee at $10.
“The money used to purchase the carts was from fundraising efforts and personal contributions to KOB,” Miller explained.
White sees the cost as minimal compared to the service received. “With single stream you throw everything in the container together, no separating of materials. It saves time, simplifies, and makes recycling easy. Half of what we throw away can be recycled,” he said.
Miller says that citizens have been asking for curbside recycling for many years and it is well worth the cost. ‘The $10 per month allows recycling to be convenient for households. Instead of collecting plastics, paper, aluminum cans and steel cans in the garage, laundry room or kitchen, citizens can place these items in the curbside container. Another convenience is not having to drive to the drop off centers when containers are full but simply rolling the cart to the curb just like you do your garbage.”
The city was recently awarded a $50,000 grant from the Department of Environmental Management for recycling. White explained that some of this money will be used to buy 250 more recycling carts and some of it will be used to purchase additional trailers for cardboard recycling. “Every ton that goes into a landfill in Alabama is taxed a dollar, which is where the grant money comes from,” White said.
The recycling carts will be green containers with yellow lids. Curbside recycling will operate like the local garbage system, with recyclables being picked up every other week. According to White, the city will offer curbside recycling to schools and public buildings at no charge.
White urges people not to bag any recyclable items. With single stream, bagging becomes an obstacle to the recycling process. “These bags of recyclable items get thrown away at the Columbus Recycling Center,” he said. “No bags of any kind will also be true for curbside recycling and no big cardboard. A booklet will be delivered with each cart explaining what you can and cannot do. I think the people who recycle at home will do it perfectly.”
White and Miller know that curbside recycling is a “win-win” for the citizens and a progressive step for the city. “Many newcomers to our city come from communities that provide curbside recycling and this has become a habit. By offering curbside recycling, we are able to stay competitive with other cities and accommodate all citizens who would like to recycle. I strongly believe that each one of us who currently recycles and delivers our goods to one of the four drop-off sites is not recycling every item available. When the household bins are overflowing, it is easiest to throw away things that could be taken for recycling. With curbside recycling, the process is more seamless and simpler and another advantage is the decrease in carbon footprints to the drop-off centers,” Miller said.
White says that curbside recycling helps make Opelika a more progressive city and “speaks volumes of its citizens.”  He adds, “Some communities embrace it and some don’t, but it’s the right thing to do.”
To sign up or ask questions visit www.opelika.org, call 705-5480 or fill out a return the form below to The City of Opelika Recycling Sign-up at P.O. Box 390, Opelika, AL 36803.

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