Three sixth grade girls made a plea to the Abilene City Council Thursday for curbside recycling.
Mattie Smith, Anna Claire Boone and Kaylee Beard started a petition for the recycling program during a 5th grade Earth Day project at Wylie Elementary School. When it was presented to city council Thursday, the petition had about 1,200 signatures.
“Everyone we talked to was very enthusiastic about curbside pickup,” Smith said. “Many people said that it's too much trouble to recycle but they definitely would if we had this service.”
Council members said it is a positive sign of the changing times that the young girls want to make curbside recycling a reality in Abilene.
“Some people haven't seen the need for it, but I don't think very many people have been out to the landfills to understand what we're putting in the landfills nor do thy understand the cost associated,” Mayor Norm Archibald said.
In 2012, the city paid about $2.3 million in fees to deposit waste in a local landfill. Director of Public Works Megan Santee said curbside recycling could reduce that amount by an estimated 23 to 26 percent. There are currently eight recycle stations in town that people can bring their items to. Santee said they brought in about $270,000 in revenue over the last year.
But some questions still need answering.
“Is it just residential curbside recycling? Do we offer it for commercial as well? Is it once a week, is it once every 2 weeks? All of those types if factors come into play as well as the single source versus the pre-sorted,” Santee said.
Another question that came up for council members – would citizens pay a monthly fee for the more convenient recycling option? Santee said the estimated cost of equipment for curbside recycling to be implemented is $1.7 to $3 million. That does not include potential labor costs.
City council will not make any decisions until city staff analyze the costs and methods of recycling in similar towns; however, some city council members have already expressed their excitement.
“What if we became the recycling center for this area?” Councilman Kyle McAlister asked.
“I would like for us to see this become not if we're going to do it, but that we have to do it,” Councilwoman Kellie Miller said. “We have to keep up with this and it's the right thing to do, it's the responsible thing to do.”