About 40,000 Columbia households would have new, large roll carts for recycling as part of the city’s $2 million plan to upgrade its residential recycling program that would be similar to programs in Richland and Lexington counties.
The 96-gallon carts could be delivered to homes in the second half of next year if City Council authorizes $1.7 million to enlarge the program, city staffers told a council committee Tuesday.
The goal is to get more residents to recycle by making it easier and more convenient and still cut City Hall’s expenses by a projected $256,000 – a one-time savings. Recycling more items also likely would cut the volume of household waste that goes to landfills, said John Hooks, the city’s solid waste superintendent.
The savings would come from having fewer recycling trucks, drivers and routes, Hooks told the Environment and Infrastructure Committee. The city has nine routes but could have three. Jobs wouldn’t be filled as they come open, avoiding layoffs, Public Works director Robert Anderson said.
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The committee suggested the city request bids from private companies that could share the cost in return for advertising their names on the carts.
Hooks estimates requests for bids will go out within the next few weeks. Council will select a partnering firm.
The savings are based on whether the city decides to pick up recyclables weekly or about twice per month as well as the size of the carts, Hooks said. Carts that hold 64 gallons would be cheaper but long term might not prove to be a savings as the volume grows, he said.
Columbians now recycle about 300 tons of mostly paper, plastics, and glass per month, Hooks said.
Neither Hooks nor Anderson would say how much more they project would be recycled in the expanded program other than to predict that more families would participate, in part because City Hall will continue to promote the program through schools.
“I still believe the way to every parent’s heart is through their children,” Anderson told the committee.
Yet to be decided is which neighborhoods would get its carts first.
Anderson said it likely would take as long as a year to rearrange routes, buy new trucks and distribute all the carts.
Part of the cost of the enlarged program is to be offset by a $300,000 grant awarded by the Southeast Recycling Development Council.
Richland County has been phasing in its roll cart program. About 40 percent of residents participate, recycling about 710 tons per month, according to figures supplied by a county spokeswoman. Ultimately, 88,000 households in unincorporated areas are to have carts. Lexington County offers roll carts to homeowners who pay for private curbside garbage and recycling pickup.