Carts versus bags debated as BA mulls trash change
BY SUSAN HYLTON World Staff Writer
Tuesday, April 24, 2012
4/24/12 at 8:30 AM
BROKEN ARROW - The city's trash-bag system is popular with many residents, but it is hardly seen in other cities anymore, and city officials say it simply isn't sustainable.
"Nobody in America is doing bags anymore," said Michael Patton, director of the Metropolitan Environmental Trust. "Almost every city in America has gone to carts. I can't name a city anywhere around us (besides Broken Arrow) that is doing bags."
Patton said cart systems result in fewer injuries to trash workers and fewer necessary pickup days, which results in lower diesel fuel costs and less wear and tear on city streets.
Broken Arrow is considering a switch to a volume-based service with plans to offer single-stream recycling and eventually transition to a fully automated system.
The city is gathering input in a series of public meetings. The City Council ultimately will decide whether to put a new trash proposal to a public vote.
The effort comes on the heels of Tulsa's new volume-based service, which is planned to start Oct. 1. Tulsa's recycling contract is with American Waste Control Inc., which has plans to construct a facility in east Broken Arrow at Houston Street (81st Street) west of 23rd Street (193rd East Avenue).
"There are some parts of the recycling process that aren't economically viable just for Broken Arrow to do it," Mayor Mike Lester said. "It's more financially viable if we do it in conjunction with Tulsa. I think we need to go through the process and see what citizens think."
Patton said he thinks Broken Arrow is smart to watch and see how Tulsa's new system is received so it can learn from Tulsa's mistakes.
Lester said the city's ultimate objective is to offer single-stream recycling.
"That's not something we can financially do initially. But if Tulsa is doing the same thing, there is a financial benefit to whatever entity that is doing it," he said, noting that it would be more viable for the city, as well.
Single-stream recycling means that residents would place all of their plastics, cans and other recyclable materials into one cart that would be picked up and separated later at a recovery facility.
A separate cart would be used for trash headed to the landfill. The less trash, the lower a customer's trash bill.
"As landfill costs continue to go up, at some point it becomes viable to recycle. We'll look at it today, to see what our citizens want to do," Lester said.
Although the first of the public meetings last week indicated strong opposition from older residents, Lester said he'll be interested to see whether younger areas of the city will embrace the plan.
"I recycle," he said. "My granddaughter got me doing plastic bottles. I feel a little guilty if I don't do that. We just have to start someplace."
Former Glenpool Mayor Shayne Buchanan said some residents there also objected when the city went to a cart-based system several years ago and reduced trash pickup to once a week.
They worried about the smell of a cart and the smell of trash with once-weekly pickup, he said. They didn't know where to put the carts and were worried about the neighborhood looking junky.
But about a year later, Buchanan said, the complaints stopped.
He said he has a family of five and made just one adjustment to adapt to once-weekly pickup. His family recycles pop bottles, milk jugs and newspapers.
"It provides so much space in that cart," he said.
The Metropolitan Environmental Trust's recycling center in Broken Arrow is the busiest of the area's 12 locations.
Jim and Valerie Spivey were dropping off items there last week. They said they like the idea of curbside recycling but worry about elderly residents being able to push the carts.
Patton says they shouldn't worry. The carts have big wheels and a low center of gravity and are easier to maneuver than a trash-filled bag, he said.
Trash plan meetings
All meetings begin at 6:30 p.m.
Monday: Ward 2, Liberty Church, 7777 S. Garnett Road
May 8: Ward 3, South Broken Arrow Library, 3600 S. Chestnut Ave.
May 14: Ward 4, Indian Springs Baptist Church, 7815 S. Elm Place
May 21: At Large, Central on Main, 210 N. Main St.
BA trash comparison, current vs. proposed
||Twice a week
||Once a week
|Monthly rate||$15.50||$15.50 for 96 gallon,
$12 for 64 gallon, $9 for 32 gallon, $6.50 for an additional cart|
||Contents of cart
Extra household waste
|not in cart||no cost||$1.50 prepaid bag|
Susan Hylton 918-581-8381