RICHLAND COUNTY, SC — Early next year, Richland County will begin to phase in larger recycling rollcarts, expecting to collect more reusable materials such as plastic, cans and glass.
To start with, only two areas of unincorporated Richland County will see changes in service.
By 2015, however, all of the countys 88,000 customers will convert from 18-gallon bins to full-sized recycling rollcarts.
The cost of curbside garbage collection will remain $249 a year, interim administrator Tony McDonald said.
Starting in February, service will change significantly for about 19,000 homes in the north-central part of the county and in the southeast:
• Yard waste, such as leaves and twigs, will have to be put in containers.
• Materials to be recycled will be picked up every two weeks, instead of each week.
Garbage will be picked up weekly, as usual.
The demand by our citizens and customers to recycle more, both in terms of volume and types of items that we recycle, continues to increase, McDonald said.
Converting first will be Area 2, between the Broad River and I-77, north of I-20; and Area 6, the neighborhoods along Garners Ferry Road, bounded by Fort Jackson to the north and Air Base Road on the south. The two areas are served by Waste Industries and Advance Disposal, respectively.
McDonald said the county is working on a plan to notify affected residents directly so there wont be confusion about whos included in the changes and whos not.
In January, information will be attached to the rollcarts of residents to notify them directly of changes in service.
This is certainly one of the more significant changes in levels of service weve had in years, he said.
Lexington County has announced similar changes to its recycling programs, starting in the spring, and the city of Columbia is evaluating its collection system. Public works director Robert Anderson said Monday he expects a recommendation for City Council in just a few weeks.
Richland County contracts with five garbage haulers to provide service in unincorporated areas at a cost to taxpayers of $29 million a year.
Contracts for two areas expire at the end of this year, and the county negotiated recycling changes as part of contract renewals. Contracts affecting the next two service areas come up in 2014 and the last three in 2015.
The county is divided into seven service districts.
Now, residents of unincorporated areas recycle about 27 percent of their household garbage, said Rudy Curtis, interim solid waste director. The upcoming change should get the county closer to the states 35 percent goal, he said, but theres no way to know until some data starts coming in.
The county has established a goal of reducing its waste stream to zero, meaning no trash would be buried in the landfill. However, McDonald said, there is no deadline to reach the goal.
Reach Hinshaw at (803) 771-8641.