Household recycling show & tell

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

By Clint Confehr

Senior Staff Writer

Lewisburg's City Council had a show and tell lesson in City Hall on Tuesday night.

Retired teacher and principal Barbara Woods, chairwoman of the city's Curbside Recycling Committee, showed three bags of trash.

Two full bags contained recyclable plastic, paper and metal. One bag was about a third full and contained ordinary garbage.

Woods said her point was to demonstrate that the weekly volume of totally disposable refuse could be reduced to less than half of what is currently being thrown away by the average Lewisburg household.

That's important because Lewisburg is planning to start a curbside recycling program in the southwest part of the city. Paper, plastic and metal are to be collected on Wednesdays; the day city sanitation crews skip for duties other than garbage collections on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday.

Currently, households in Lewisburg have collection services twice a week. Members of Woods' committee and other local officials have said eventually they hope to be able to have one trash collection day and the other trash collection day replaced with a collection of recyclable materials.

To show that it can be done, Woods brought three bags of trash to City Hall.

"Being such an experienced teacher," Woods said, "I know that audio-visuals make such a difference. Most people are visual learners. Since I've been doing this at home, I've been surprised at how easy it is -- especially since you don't have to recycle glass."

QRS Recycling, the Nashville business that's to receive collections here, does not take glass because it breaks and contaminates paper, plastic and metals, making them worthless, Woods said.

She encouraged people at the council's meeting to start their own separation to see how easy it is to reduce volumes of garbage and recycle paper, plastic and metal.

Council was predisposed to agree since it appointed the curbside recycling committee's members and was expecting a resolution to take another step toward curbside collection of recyclable materials.

Council unanimously agreed to be ready to spend $10,000 for trash carts for recyclables. That's to match a $35,000 state grant if it's awarded.

Council resolved to accept the recycling committee's recommendation to conduct a pilot program a curbside collection program, City Manager Eddie Fuller said.

"We'll start with about 900 homes in a test area bounded on the north by West Commerce Street, on the east by CSX Railroad tracks, and on the south and west by the city corporate limits, " Fuller said.

"It's the Tuesday-Friday collection route in Rolling Hills, Lakewood Circle and along Fox Lane and in Green Valley," he said. "We'll do that until we decide to do the rest of the city."

"The council will make that call," Fuller said. "That will be a little controversial."

The example he provided was of a woman who spoke with him before the meeting Tuesday night saying, "You've been listening to Al Gore too much."

Recyclable collections will be on Wednesday during the first several months of the program, he said.

"Then we'll have a media blitz and go door to door and leave door hangers for those who are not home," Fuller said. "We hope to start this in early spring."

Recycling more than two thirds of household trash in Lewisburg is expected to save the city on its payments to Waste Management Inc. for depositing trash at Cedar Ridge Landfill, Fuller said.

"That's in a perfect world," he continued. "We could cut it by 50-60 percent and save that money, but it will take us some time to get to that point. It would be a real educational thing to have two cans separate."

Woods said an education program is being organized and will be announced this winter.