Taxpayers pay for recycling, so speak up
Fayetteville’s recycling staff says they must have new curb-sort trucks now. Even though Fayetteville staff had input designing the current multi-compartment trucks, employees still have to sort each bottle, can, etc. They have to lift the 18-gallon bins from the ground up to the truck. Imagine doing that hundreds of times a day, several days a week, in all kinds of weather.
Too bad the past couple of years were not spent designing the perfect truck, one that would eliminate back strain and repetitive motion syndrome, while providing end-users (companies making new product from our recyclables) with quality feedstock. Maybe the city could’ve made money with a patented design.
Instead, time was spent in meetings with consultants discussing single stream. The consultants were paid over $320,000. At a Water & Sewer Committee meeting in 2016, staff announced how pleased they were with the single-stream pilot. They said there was very little glass breakage. Hmm, while we do live in the Bible belt and miracles do happen, I believe Fayetteville’s glass does break. Upon contacting the glass industry, it was confirmed that our glass does break.
At the time city staff was telling us our glass doesn’t break, the glass industry was in turmoil because the major garbage haulers have control of most of the nation’s recyclable resources (this is one elephant on the recycling sort line). In April 2016 the glass industry met in Washington, D.C., to discuss how the heck to deal with the single-stream mess.
The glass industry is the only end-user to appear before the Fayetteville City Council during all the single-stream discussions. They asked that we keep glass separate from other materials. Not one end-user from the paper, plastic, or metal industry has darkened the door of our City Council chambers to say, “Please toss all your recycling together. It provides us with better quality feedstock.”
If an end-user did request single stream, I’d wonder if they owned an incinerator and planned to burn our paper, plastic, etc., to fuel their facility. Every community needs a recycling transparency/accountability ordinance. Would you oppose such an ordinance?
We don’t have equipment problems; we have process and culture problems. The process could’ve begun with a single-stream study, done (for free) by the Environmental Action Committee. Upon doing their homework, the committee would have informed the community that single stream was initiated and pushed by major garbage hauling companies, not end-users.
We need a culture in which staff are not afraid to speak the truth, even if the message is unpopular. They know single stream is a mess. I suspect they also know which companies collect and dump recyclables in the landfill.
I don’t mind paying taxes if I feel the dollars are used wisely. November is budget time, when the City Council determines 2018 expenditures. You might consider asking questions in your area of interest. By the way, SurveyMonkey is not a random sample, so take note when told about citizen “survey” results.