The City of David City's City Council is researching more cost-effective ways to collect and haul garbage and recyclables.
The most recent proposal was outlined at the City of David City's City Council meeting on July 22 by Nebraska Recycling Council (NRC) Program Manager Leah Meyer.
Currently, the City has an open hauling policy. Residents are responsible for subscribing to the garbage collector of their choice, but options are extremely limited for haulers that take recycling.
Under a contracted hauling system, the city would set up an agreement with one hauler to take garbage and recycling for everyone in town.
Meyer cited a recent NRC survey of southeast Nebraska that found the average household pays $15 per month for recycling under a contracted hauling system.
“In general we have found that contracted garbage collection and recycling is less expensive for the resident,” Meyer said.
Contracted models also have more consistent pick-up and are less damaging to streets, she added.
In the past, council members have expressed concern about the likelihood of getting a bid from a contracted hauler. That is not likely to be a problem, Meyer said.
But the city is cautious for other reasons.
“This has become so volatile over the past six months to a year, with cardboard dropping price down to zero, so the difference of what it takes to collect it and haul it anywhere became cost-prohibitive,” Mayor Alan Zavodny said at the meeting.
David City has its own recycling center, which has been closed since December. Before that, it was responsible for sorting and baling the city’s recycled plastics and cardboard.
Last year, the Chinese recycling market – where most U.S. recyclable material ends up – stopped accepting most U.S. plastic and cardboard materials. The price of cardboard fell to $0 per ton. First Star Fiber, the Omaha-based company that took recyclables from David City, stopped accepting product.
“They weren’t able to ship any recyclables. That’s why it quit. Because they couldn’t take our stuff because they couldn’t get rid of it, either,” David City Airport, Recycling and Street Department employee Chris Kroesing said.
David City’s Recycling Center is small, Kroesing said, and there is nowhere to store a lot of material. The city was going in the hole financially and plastic and cardboard were piling up. As soon as Kroesing found out they couldn’t ship cardboard, the center closed.
Right now, the state of Nebraska does not require local governments to provide recycling services for residents. But Kroesing said people have missed recycling in David City.
However, the experience has made city officials cautious about how to handle recycling going forward – no one wants a repeat incident. Not helping matters is the ballooning cost to dump trash at the Butler County Landfill. Thus, the City’s investigation into a recycling and garbage hauling contract.
The cost of collection and hauling would be built into a contracted agreement, Meyer said. And, she noted, recycling rates go up under contracted systems, which is why the NRC promotes them.
“But ultimately we want what’s best for your community. So if that means having a trailer in town and looking for the best ways to move that trailer – and you currently have a recycling center, having us address some concerns there – we’re here for advice when it comes to consultation on that,” Meyer said.
Molly Hunter is a reporter for The Banner-Press. Reach her via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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