Recycling: the nitty-gritty

Jacob Lane · Tuesday, November 7, 2017
NOTE: In previous editions of the West Liberty Index it was incorrectly stated that the total cost of curbside recycling in West Liberty would cost $1.7 million. This is too high.

Actually, the total cost of the project is $901,538, with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) contributing $675,403.50 and the remaining $226,134.50 coming from the City of West Liberty.

The City of West Liberty is working toward implementing curbside recycling by the summer of 2018, putting recycling bins at every home and business.

The details

Referred to as ‘single-stream’ curbside recycling, a major purpose for the switch in the way recycling is handled is to cut down on the city’s trips to the landfill every week.

With a population of 3,736, recycle bins would be made available to all of West Liberty’s 1,251 households as well as 118 households in subdivisions outside of town.

Obviously the target for curbside is residents of West Liberty and the surrounding area. Businesses that currently receive solid waste services through the city would also receive the service.

As part of the project, the city council will adopt an ordinance to enable mandatory curbside recycling on a bi-weekly basis (every two weeks), similar to the weekly pick-up of garbage.

There isn’t a final cost as-of-yet, but it’s estimated that curbside recycling will cost homeowners around $3 to $5 more on their monthly utility bills. In order to be a complete success it will take continued support from the community.

“In a perfect world we would love to see 100 percent participation from residents and businesses,” says City Manager Lawrence McNaul. “However our first and foremost priority is our residents and our focus was for them.”

“Because of our location part of this grant was also awarded for us to be considered for a regional drop off site for private haulers and other communities,” he says.

“However I have been direct with the sources at the DNR our priority is for West Liberty and once we are operational and functioning we will then consider partnerships but not until we’re functional locally first,” adds McNaul.

Is there a need?

Currently, residents travel to the recycling facility located at N. Walnut Street, in the northwest part of town. The city transports all that recycling four times a week to Iowa City.

According to the curbside plan the city will purchase and distribute around 1,675 totes, either 65-gallon or 96-gallon, to each household in its service area.

The tote size was chosen to encourage as much recycling as possible while still having easily moveable totes.

Each tote will have a Mylar sticker on top indicating what can and can not be recycled. The city will also circulate recycling info when each can is delivered.

While it’s not all, a majority of community members in West Liberty seem to be in favor of moving to curbside recycling.

In fact, according to a survey sent out by the city at the beginning of 2016, roughly 83 percent of the 254 responders were in favor of curbside recycling.

The project includes a complete overhaul to how recycling is handled right now. For instance, the recycling center on Walnut Street is being completely rebuilt.

According to Kalona Post and Frame, the new ‘West Liberty Municipal Recycling Facility’ will cost $242,611 to build.

The building, 60x100x20, is where all recycling will be taken after collection. The initial plan was to house a baler and store recyclable materials collected from both the curbside and the drop-off recycling programs.

Since the awarding of the grant it has been determined that hauling loose material is the preferred method to transport, so the cost has been refocused for additional planning and education efforts.

It should be noted there will continue to be a limited time to drop off recyclable items when the building is staffed during business hours. Nothing on weekends or after hours.

The curbside recycling project also includes a new automatic collection truck, which city employees will be trained to use. The truck will also be used to collect garbage on non-recycle days.

The city believes that education will be an important part of moving to curbside recycling; without a clear understanding it will not be successful.

West Liberty will work with the Waste Commission of Scott County to provide a list of recyclable materials and clear understandable instructions. Material will be available in Spanish and English.

Before the recycling totes are delivered the city will hold an open house community event where residents and businesses can come and learn more.

In fact, there will be a city employee at the Holiday Open House, Nov. 19, 1-4 p.m. to talk about curbside recycling in the Regional Learning and Cultural Center, as well as a video.

The numbers

As mentioned before West Liberty has a drop-off recycling program where cardboard, paper, tin/metal cans, and plastic containers are collected separately.

In Fiscal Year 2015, a total of 183 tons of material was collected from the drop-off site and recycled.

Compare this to West Liberty’s waste collection between the dates of July 1, 2014 to June 30, 2015, when the city sent 1,772.61 tons of waste to the landfill.

Using the Iowa DNR Waste Characterization study for guidance, a good 200 to 470 tons of that waste could have been recycled.

It’s hoped that by offering curbside recycling and making recycling easier for residents a lot of this waste will instead be recycled.

An estimated additional 200 tons are anticipated to be diverted from the landfill through the proposed curbside recycling project. This would increase diversion to 21.6 percent.

It is proposed that curbside recycling will include the diversion of cardboard, paper, tin/metal cans, glass and plastics (except polystyrene), and film plastic.

With the implementation of single-stream curbside recycling, the city aims to cut down the number of trips it makes transporting recycling outside of town. It could cut transportation costs by as much as $12,000 to $16,000 a year.

All of the recycling gathered at the Municipal Recycling Facility will be transported to a yet-to-be decided facility in Scott or Dubuque County twice a month.
More News
©2018 West Liberty Index | Web Development by Brian McMillin, LLC