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Columbus Mayor Moves Forward With Free Curbside Recycling
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Columbus residents who pay for curbside recycling services soon could enjoy the service for free. Mayor Michael Coleman announced plans Thursday to move forward with a promise he made nearly two years ago. WOSU has details on the proposed city-wide recycling program.
If Columbus City Council keeps the recycling program in the upcoming annual budget, area residents can apply to have their pop cans, magazines and other recyclables picked up practically at their doorstep – at no cost to them.
For customers who already pay for curbside service through Rumpke, that’s a $100 savings.
Virginia Miller drops off some recycling at a city park. Miller, who recycles a lot, said having it picked up at home would be more convenient, especially since the city will provide residents with a 64 gallon cart for their recyclables.
“It will save me some trips and it’ll save my stuff from stacking up inside my house for a couple weeks at a time,” she said.
Mayor Coleman said the program will cost nearly $3 million a year. And the money would come from the general fund.
“Residential recycling is a basic neighborhood service,” he said.
Coleman said Columbus is the worst in the nation for recycling.
“We recycle less material than any other big city in our country. We are the worst. And you know with all the green things we’ve talked about we can’t be green pretenders,” Coleman said.
The program, Coleman said, has the potential to eventually almost pay for itself from savings in tipping fees the city pays the Solid Waste Authority of Central Ohio. SWACO charges Columbus for every ton of trash that goes into the landfill. More recycling means less landfill trash. In order to meet that goal, residents would have to recycle about 54,000 tons a year.
And that could hurt SWACO’s finances. The down economy has caused people to buy less and produce less trash which means less revenue. All the while, recycling continues to increase – which also means LESS landfill trash and less revenue. If Coleman’s curbside plan moves forward as he sees it SWACO will be out about $3 million a year.
SWACO currently carries about $107 million in debt. But spokesperson John Remy contended any revenue lost from tipping fees due to city curbside recycling will not bankrupt SWACO.
“Our finances we are fine right now and continuing to work on new projects that will replace some funding, tipping fees, that we rely on right now,” Remy said.
If city council keeps the mayor’s proposal in the budget, curbside service would be phased in beginning in the spring with city-wide service complete by the end of 2012.
Curbside pick-up would only be available to single family homes.