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County to pick up curbside recycling
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After what has been called a successful pilot program, Effingham County is set to take off with curbside recycling.

Commissioners have approved an amendment to the contract with Republic Waste, the county’s solid waste contractor, to extend its curbside recycling across the county. The county’s solid waste department began a pilot program in May, targeting 725 homes across the five commission districts.

“It was extremely successful,” said county sanitation director Connie Burns. “We received numerous calls, nearly 200 calls and over 90 percent of the people requested that we continue to do this program.”

Burns wants to start the larger recycling program by Nov. 1. That is contingent on the delivery of recycling trucks. The startup date may be pushed back to Jan. 1, 2012.

Commissioners and residents expressed their pleasure at how well the pilot program went.

“It’s wonderful,” said Christine Kirkland. “My neighbor down the street has her 7-year-old in charge of their recycling. It’s simple enough that he does it.”

Commissioner Bob Brantley said he had not received “one negative comment about it,” and Commissioner Vera Jones said she has received emails and Facebook  messages in support of curbside recycling.

“From the onset, I was the most skeptical,” said 3rd District Commissioner Steve Mason. “But I haven’t had anyone say anything negative about it. I’m glad it’s working out.”

Burns said they chose the homes for the pilot program to get a representation of the county.

“Everywhere we go, we have people ask us, ‘why didn’t you pick me?’” she said. “We randomly picked the demographics of the county, to try to cover the rural areas and the subdivisions.”

Under the revised contract, Republic will provide solid waste service to the county through Oct. 31, 2016. At $11.03 per month, county residential trash customers get one garbage cart a month. A second recycling cart, which will be 96 gallons in capacity, will cost an additional $2.90 per month, but the county will bear that cost.

The recycling carts also will be brand new.

“We’ve worked really hard on renegotiating a good price for the county at terms we thought were beneficial and would protect the citizens of the county,” Burns said.

County Administrator David Crawley said there will be no increase to residents from the sanitation fees set last month. Any adjustment will be done next year when new sanitation fees are set. The cost of the recycling carts are being covered by a surplus in the county’s sanitation fund, he said.

A recycling cart could take the place of a second trash cart for many residents, county officials have pointed out. A second garbage cart is $108 per year.

“One of the reasons we did not increase the sanitation fees was because of the residents who have a second cart,” Crawley said. “We feel the recycling cart will give them an opportunity to reduce that cart and save that cost.”

The recycling will be single stream — no separation of paper, cardboard, glass, newspapers and metal will be necessary — and recycling pickup will take place every other week.

“After one year of recycling, we would go back and evaluate what’s been diverted from the solid waste stream,” Burns said. “It could even bring the sanitation costs down even more. The more we can divert from the waste stream, the better, and it will be next year if we go to look at disposal costs and possibly bring the costs a little better.”

The current contract calls for Republic not to have any garbage trucks past eight years old servicing the county’s needs. Republic’s rewards program under RecycleBank will provide marketing and education for implementing the recycling program.

Republic also will support the Keep Effingham Beautiful program and will provide to the county an incentive for recyclables of at least $5 per ton.

Burns said Republic and her department will work with local businesses to provide rewards and incentives through the RecycleBank program.

Along with new recycling carts, Republic will provide new recycling trucks. The company also will help with a once-a-year dry and special trash pickup

The participation rate was 66 percent, and Burns said that number was hurt because of the lesser participation during holidays.

“The public is really telling us they want curbside recycling,” Burns said, “and they want to see this implemented.”