Ring­gold dis­cussing new plans for down­town re­cy­cling pro­gram

The Catoosa County News - - COMMENTARY - By Adam Cook

Ring­gold of­fi­cials are dis­cussing fu­ture plans for the city’s down­town re­cy­cling cen­ter af­ter eval­u­at­ing the us­age and costs re­lated to the first year of the pro­gram.

In Fe­bru­ary 2017, the city opened its re­cy­cling drop-off cen­ter at the cor­ner of Lafayette and Cleve­land streets, across from the Lit­tle Gen­eral Chil­dren’s Park, so res­i­dents would have a place bring their re­cy­clables.

Dur­ing the March 12 City Coun­cil meet­ing, the board be­gan ex­am­in­ing the ques­tion of whether to stand pat with the cur­rent sys­tem, or look for new ways to in­crease par­tic­i­pa­tion and lower some of the haul­ing costs.

“Ap­prox­i­mately 200 city res­i­dents have been us­ing the drop off cen­ter. Some are there about ev­ery week, and then some are there once ev­ery month or so,” City Man­ager Dan Wright said. “We’ve col­lected ap­prox­i­mately 21 tons of re­cy­cling that’s been di­verted from the land­fill over the past year, which re­lated to 26 con­tain­ers full.”

Wright says that in ad­di­tion to the costs of hous­ing the re­cy­cling con­tainer and the haul­ing of ma­te­rial, city la­bor is also fac­tored in.

“The cost of this ser­vice to haul was $5,450,” Wright said. “When you con­vert that to the per ton, it comes out to about $260, it’s a lit­tle less, about $259.70 or so. In ad­di­tion to that, we have the dropoff la­bor cost where we have a city part-time em­ployee there that opens it up and stays for four hours twice a week.”

The num­bers show that even with the re­cy­cling cen­ter avail­able, house­hold garbage in­take in­creased in 2017 com­pared to 2016.

“It was 1,105 tons (in 2016), and then 1,167 tons in 2017 for about a 63.82 ton in­crease,” Wright ex­plained. “That is pri­mar­ily due to growth, but it’s hard to get a good rep­re­sen­ta­tion of the busi­nesses and hous­ing mar­ket from 2016 to 2017.”

Top­ics of dis­cus­sion for change in­clude leav­ing the pro­gram as is, adding a con­tainer with a com­pactor so haul­ing doesn’t have to oc­cur as of­ten, adding curb­side pickup, or pos­si­bly even try­ing to con­tract a pri­vate com­pany to han­dle curb­side. The board will also con­sider mov­ing the cen­ter to a dif­fer­ent lo­ca­tion in town.

Af­ter dis­cussing the pro­gram with the city of East Ridge, Tenn., which runs a curb­side pro­gram, the board seemed to be in fa­vor of adding curb­side into the fu­ture plans.

Wright said the curb­side plan could in­clude charg­ing a monthly fee for res­i­den­tial re­cy­cling cans to co­in­cide with the pickup.

“We looked at $3.90 per month for ev­ery other week, 26 hauls per year,” Wright said. “That’s ap­prox­i­mately 1,100 res­i­den­tial cans and about 120 com­mer­cial cans.”

Coun­cil­man Larry Black said that more res­i­dents might be in­clined to re­cy­cle if res­i­den­tial curb­side cans were of­fered.

“I don’t know that they (res­i­dents) will take the time to con­tinue to come if we don’t do the curb­side pickup,” Black said. “I think we would see more and more of our res­i­dents ac­tu­ally tak­ing part in the pro­gram be­cause it’s con­ve­nient and it’s right there ac­ces­si­ble to them.”

Mayor Nick Mill­wood added that he thinks the curb­side op­tion could help with how much re­cy­cling the city ac­tu­ally does.

“If we were to do a curb­side ser­vice, I think the ton­nage that we saw this year would in­crease dra­mat­i­cally, and as an ex­ten­sion, de­crease the ton­nage that we’re send­ing off to the land­fill and that cost that we’re in­cur­ring,” Mill­wood said.

Coun­cil­man Ran­dall Franks pointed out that the city spent just shy of $15,000 on the project over­all last year, and that per­haps adding the curb­side op­tion might be a way of adding bal­ance to the pro­gram.

The board didn’t vote on a spe­cific di­rec­tion of which to go, but did di­rect Wright and city staff to fur­ther in­ves­ti­gate the de­tails and costs in­volved with all po­ten­tial av­enues.

“If we’re talk­ing about curb­side ser­vice, I would imag­ine that there’s a lit­tle bit of work to do to let us know what some of our op­tions might be and what the plan would be mov­ing for­ward,” Mayor Mill­wood said.

Ring­gold’s re­cy­cling cen­ter is lo­cated at the cor­ner of Lafayette Street and Cleve­land Street down­town across from the Lit­tle Gen­eral Chil­dren’s Park. (Ca­toosa News photo/Adam Cook)

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