By Bill Lawson
After years of study and debate Maumelle implemented an in-house curbside single stream recycling program this week rather than utilize outside contractors.
The primary consideration was the additional $3 a month the city would have had to pay to Waste Management, the outside company the city considered.
Unlike some other cities within the county who have all gone with Waste Management, Maumelle has a long history of recycling and that program will continue.
Chris Collins, who supervises the recycling program for Maumelle’s Public Works Department said he hopes residents will continue to bring large items and those not accepted curbside, like glass to the transfer center located behind the Animal Services building.
It may be more convenient for some residents to load up a vehicle and drive in to the transfer center rather than place it in the bin and carry it out to the curb, he said.
Most of all, Collins said he hopes residents continue their proud tradition of recycling.
The aesthetics of having another large green and yellow recycling bin in front of homes bothered several aldermen during the discussion of hiring Waste Management to handle recycling.
Alderman Burch Johnson said many condos and smaller homes don’t have room for an extra barrel inside a garage and storing them outside would become an eyesore," Johnson said.
But for Mayor Mike Watson, a new unfunded drain on the city’s tight budget was the deciding factor.
"One of the reasons that we chose to go with in-house recycling rather than Waste Management is the $3 monthly fee that would be passed on to residents, whether they recycled or not," Watson said.
"However, there were additional factors. The large cart required by Waste Management was an issue for some residents, as well as council members. Some council members were against allowing a private company to take over a service currently provided by the city. The city will continue to provide a weekly service, while Waste Management offers a biweekly service.
If positions within the Sanitation Department were eliminated because of the contract with Waste Management, we could not guarantee our employees that Waste Management would hire them. Although Waste Management said they would make every effort to hire displaced workers, they could not guarantee them a position.
For all these reasons, we believe that the best decision is to continue our established recycling program with expanded items. Glass is the only item that we are unable to accept that Waste Management would have accepted."
Everyone involved points out that if the program really takes off considerations can be made at that time.
North Little Rock and Little Rock switched to Waste Management a couple of years ago and initially the recycling numbers were sky high. But once the newness wore off, the daily grind of placing recycling items in a separate bin lost its luster for most of those who embraced it initially.
One concern is that elderly or frail residents may have difficulty carrying a blue bin loaded with heavy item to the curb while it would be easier to roll a barrel out.
Collins said these residents might find it easier to load a trunk or truck bed with the items, take them to the transfer center and unload them a little at a time there.
Watson noted the recycling he expects residents to embrace might reduce the garbage being placed in huge man-made mountains of trash around central Arkansas and even save the city money it pays to dump garbage.
As progressive and environmentally conscious as Maumelle’s residents are, Watson said he expects many to really make a dent in trash by recycling while others may be limited to just recycling larger items.
Details of the ins and outs of all the rules are contained in fliers the city is distributing to residents and is all available on the city’s web page.
As many as three of the blue plastic bins will be allowed per household if there’s a need but city officials suggest first trying one or two and seeing how the program fits into your family schedule.
Every item recyclable can just be dumped in a bin together without the old separating of items. Glass is the only exception.