Ringgold discussing new plans for downtown recycling program
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)