When cruising town, one may notice the several scattered recycling bins. But what one may not realize is that not all the collected materials end up actually being recycled by the city. That doesn’t mean they don’t serve a purpose.
While the city still recycles aluminum and compost, it hasn’t recycled mixed paper, glass, plastic or cardboard in nearly three years. Instead, these materials are lumped in with the trash at the city landfill.
Public Works Director John Harbarger explained the reason they still collect recyclables like cardboard.
“We’re trying to keep people in the habit so that if we start recycling again, they’re still doing it the right way.”
Harbarger explained that national recycling guidelines have become more specific since the city was last in the habit of recycling everything.
“We can’t use anything with contamination,” he said.
Anything with food residue, for example, is considered contaminated.
Plastic, such as water bottles, can’t be recycled if they still have a cap and ring on it.
Landfill Supervisor Alan Gorrell explained that they also wouldn’t be able to recycle thin cardboard like cereal and soda boxes.
The city’s recent online recycling survey was tallied a couple weeks ago, in which 189 votes came in for three different options. The most popular option was to recycle cardboard, aluminum, mixed paper and some plastics with a rate change of $5 a month for residential and $7.50 for businesses. One to two recyclers would also need be hired. This got 105 votes (55%).
The next most popular option was to do away with all recycling, which would create no rate change. This received 57 votes, or 30%.
The least popular option was to only recycle cardboard and aluminum cans with a $3 residential rate increase and $7.50 business increase.
While City Administrator Jonathan Teichert said that while the survey was a good start to gauging the public’s interest in recycling, he doesn’t have much confidence in its statistical viability.
“Voters could’ve been from outside of city limits or somebody could’ve voted on multiple devices,” he said.
Should the city decide to get back in the habit of recycling, they’ll probably partner with Casper, Harbarger said.
However, it won’t be cheap, as the city would need to create one to two recycling positions.
“(If) you’re bringing in $2000 in a month for recyclables, it’ll cost you an employee about five, six thousand dollars a month, that isn’t good business. So that’s why we need to charge,” he said.
Gorrell said if the city opts to recycle again in the future, he’d like to conduct frequent seminars and workshops to teach people updated recycling guidelines.
“I think they probably would (help inform people) if we had a lot more of them,” he said.