Curbside Recycling Program Presented at City Council Workshop

Communications Director

Kristin Farley
(865) 215-2589

400 Main St., Room 691
Knoxville, TN 37902

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Curbside Recycling Program Presented at City Council Workshop

Posted: 12/10/2009
After a year of study a City of Knoxville consultant is presenting a possible plan for establishing a city-wide, single-stream, curbside recycling program to City Council at its Wednesday workshop.

DSM Environmental Services, contractor to The Climate Group, researched the issue as part of Knoxville's 2008 selection as a "model city" for recycling by The Climate Group and the American Beverage Association. The recognition included up to $200,000 for research into developing a citywide recycling program.

Mayor Bill Haslam's administration has not recommended putting DSM's proposal into effect but is presenting it to Council to obtain input on DSM's findings. The city has received numerous requests about the possibility of establishing citywide recycling and the sustainability task force has recommended reducing landfill waste.

Using a single-stream curbside model would mean that residential recycling would become as easy as throwing away garbage, since residents would no longer have to separate recyclable items. Instead they would place the materials in one container which would be picked up bimonthly with the garbage.

The service would be free to citizens, who would voluntarily participate. It would save landfill space and reduce the $1.4 million annual tipping fee the city currently pays to use the Chestnut Ridge Landfill.

There are costs associated with transitioning from the city's current system of recycling centers to curbside recycling. DSM estimates that adding curbside service would cost about $1.7 million a year.

The study indicates that much of that cost could be offset by modernizing several components of the City's current solid waste collection system, including charging for non-medically necessary backdoor garbage pickup, raising fees at the city's Solid Waste Management facility on Elm Street to rates comparable to the private sector, and the savings from fewer trips to the landfill. The city could use $700,000 from a federal energy grant to buy the 95-gallon containers.

DSM estimates the city's annual cost of curbside recycling ranges from breaking even to running up to $500,000 a year. Additionally Knoxville currently receives $150,000 to $200,000 annually from the sale of recyclable material and that amount should increase as the economy improves.

Currently Knoxville uses a drop center recycling program. Eleven drop-off centers recover roughly 6,000 tons of recyclable material a year. The program costs the city about $490,000 annually.

Waste Connections, the city's contractor for household garbage pick, offers curbside recycling to city residents as a private, for pay, service. About 2,000 households pay for it.

There are about 59,000 households in Knoxville that have garbage pickup. DSM also estimated that about 20,000 households would take part in a voluntary recycling program.