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Rincon takes a new look at recycling
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Waste Management’s Russ Hightower shows off the recycling-only carts. - photo by Photo by Rick Lott

The city of Rincon may be a step closer to implementing a recycling program.

Russ Hightower, public affairs manager for Waste Management, showed city council members what a single-stream recycling program looks like. He also made recommendations to council and showed them how to get it started.

Waste Management currently provides the city with garbage service. The company runs similar recycling programs in Garden City, Bluffton, S.C., and Sun City, S.C.

Hightower said a program would typically take 60-90 days to implement and they proposed to use 64-gallon wheeled containers with bright yellow lids for the recyclables. He said that program would pick up twice a month and cost $4.75 per household per month.

“It’s an exciting proposal and the beauty of it is, it’s really easy,” Hightower said. “Single-stream is so easy, you can put it all in one can, so you’ve got more participation, people not worried about the rules, not worried about messing something up, you’ve got more stuff going in. About half of what you throw away can be recycled.”

The number of landfills has steadily decreased, according to Hightower, and the size of landfills has been larger.

“So the need to preserve the life of those landfills for what really should go in the landfills is very important to everyone,” he said. “You have to have that landfill capacity.”

He also said that the public currently throws away enough aluminum in landfills in three months “to rebuild all of our commercial airplanes.”

Mayor Ken Lee said the council has been getting inquiries and interest in recycling.

“It’s becoming more and more important to all of us and our citizens,” he said.

A recycling program would not affect the current cost of garbage pickup, Hightower said. Councilman Paul Wendelken asked why consumers would be charged when the company stood to make money off the recycled materials.

“We do take into account what we predict the markets will return on the recyclables when we set the pricing,” Hightower said. “The flip side of that is about six months ago, the markets were in the hole. You needed to pay to get your recyclables taken. There wasn’t any rebate on our end. We do take that into account, what we believe the markets will be in the future when we set the price.”

Councilman Levi Scott asked whether the city might see some reduction in garbage pickup costs.

“(There are) many seniors living in the community who don’t even fill up a cart,” he said.

Hightower answered that any handicapped person who turned in the paperwork could receive walk-up service rather than having to take their big garbage cans outside for pickup. Hightower also said there could a drop-off site for recyclables.

Council members said they will study the options and return to the subject later.