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Posted: 07/30/14

Village trustees upgrade
recycling program to large carts

Observer Staff Writer
      Recycling in the Village of Romeo will become bigger, easier and a bit more expensive.
       On July 21, the Village Board of Trustees voted 4-3 to a contract extension with Waste Management that will switch recycling to a 64-gallon cart picked up every other week. Trustees Bob Hart, Christine Malzahn and Skip Tornow cast the dissenting votes.
       The change is tentatively scheduled to take place in the fall.
       Pat Greve, public sector solutions representative with Waste Management, said more communities are switching out their old 18-gallon recycle bins for a larger, wheeled cart with a lid.
       Greve said the 64-gallon carts are double the size of a typical garbage can, so people are motivated to recycle more materials. He said it could increase participation from roughly 50 percent to 90 percent.
       "Our data indicates in every instance that the volume that comes out of the trash stream and into the recycle stream increases," he said.
       To switch, the village had to extend its contract with new terms. The current contract is $239,928 a year for the village, or $14.15 a month per unit.
       With the new agreement, the cost will go up to $14.95 a month per unit to cost a total of $243,984 in the first year.
       The rate will increase to $15.40 a month in the second year, $15.86 the third year, $16.34 in the fourth year and $16.83 the fifth year. In the fifth year of the contract, the total cost will be $274,665.
       Greve said the additional cost is for the carts, as the company purchases them and is responsible for them if they are damaged or need replacing.
       The frequency of the collection will change from a weekly pick-up to every other week to manage the costs. Half of the community would have their bins picked up one week, then the other half the next.
       Trustee Ron Rossell made the motion supporting this proposal, saying it shows the village is encouraging recycling and the carts are maintained by the company.
       "Actually, they look better if you drive around on Wednesday mornings," Rossell said.
       The old bins will no longer be collected once they are replaced since the trucks that lift them use a mechanical arm, and the old bins aren't compatible with them.
       Greve said residents can re-purpose the old bins or even throw them in the new cart to be recycled.
       Trustees mulled over a different proposal that would still switch recycling to every other week, but allow residents to use existing recycle bins, rent a recycle cart or use up to a 32-gallon bin with a recycle sticker.
       This would cost a total of $220,646 in the first year, or $13.86 per unit per monthly. By the fifth year of the contract, the village would pay $243,494, or $14.92 per unit a month. Renting a cart would cost as much as $4 a month for residents.
       Malzahn said it would be a savings for the village and give residents options for what container to use.
       "I just don't think that just because you give them the container that people are going to be more inclined to recycle," she said.
       Hart said some residents don't generate the volume that a 64-gallon cart would provide, or they don't have room for the cart.
       "It seems like a good value to me," Hart said of the second proposal.
       He wondered if there was any input from the community regarding the switch. Village Clerk Marian McLaughlin said the biggest request from residents is for lids or a second bin.
       Village President Mike Lee said he didn't believe it would be more cost-effective to go with the second proposal, and agreed he would recycle more with the cart.
       If the village kept the services the same, the contract would cost $249,696 in the fifth year. McLaughlin said she budgeted for the status quo service, so the village will have to determine how to fund the increase.
       A guide will be provided to residents to inform them of what materials can be recycled as well as information for the solid waste program. The guide will include a map and schedule for pick-up dates.
       Solid waste and yard waste services will not change with the contract extension.

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