The city will keep the large green recycling bins available to the public for a while longer as it finalizes a franchise agreement with a private company to begin curbside recycling in the city.
The city announced in June it would end its recycling efforts and was working on establishing a franchise agreement with a private company to offer curbside recycling.
City Manager Joe Neeb said Friday the city is “really close” to completing a franchise agreement with J&A Recycling, which he said is the only business to so far express interest in seeking such an agreement with the city.
“I think the business is getting ready to do their initial push saying ‘We’re here, we’re ready.’ Within the next 30 days I think you’ll see a big push,” Neeb told the Roswell Daily Record on Friday.
Calls to J&A Recycling were not returned by press time.
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One change in the city’s agreements with J&A Recycling will be its location for sorting materials. In May, the City Council approved a lease with the business for 800 square feet in a building at the Roswell Air Center, but Neeb said the business will operate from a different location.
“We found before they even opened up it was going to be too small for what they believe the market will hold and so they found their own building up on the north end of town,” Neeb said.
Part of the delay in creating the franchise agreement was the need to rewrite the city’s code.
“What we found was the code was out of context with the state law as to how franchises are. So we had to back up and actually rebuild our foundational blocks, essentially the law that says this is how we will manage our business,” Neeb said.
The ordinance issuing those changes was delayed somewhat when the Legal Committee did not have a quorum for its June meeting. In its July meeting, the committee voted unanimously to recommended the City Council adopt the ordinance.
The City Council conducted a public hearing at its Aug. 13 meeting and voted to adopt the changes.
Neeb said the city continues to work with J&A and will actually be delivering one of its balers to the company’s sorting facility.
“We have a sublease with them to utilize that baler. Before we hand it over, we wanted to make sure that it was in good condition,” he said.
Until the company is fully up and running, the city’s nine recycling bins will remain in their locations.
“We don’t intend to pull those bins until J&A is able to fill that role. I’ve asked for a little bit of an overlap with those containers in order to make sure that anybody that wishes to recycle can still recycle,” Neeb said.
The materials accepted at the recycling bins will be limited to aluminum and tin cans and cardboard, however.
Newspapers, paper and plastics will no longer be collected in the bins. Neeb said that is largely due to changes in the recycling markets.
For 25 years, China had been the world’s largest market for recycling, but in January 2018 banned the import of most materials. Within a year, its imports of plastics dropped by 99% and mixed papers dropped by a third.
“When that happened, then all of a sudden the recycling model no longer worked financially for everybody,” Neeb said.
As a result, the city of Roswell has been supplementing its recycling program at a cost of $225,000 a year, Neeb told city councilors in June.
Transportation costs of the materials are also a particular challenge in Roswell, Neeb said.
“Because we’re such an isolated city, our transportation systems to get things from our location to where they can actually reuse it or change it, the transportation cost goes up significantly,” Neeb said.
The city has also had significant problems with materials in the bins being contaminated, Neeb said. That happens when the materials are not cleaned of food remnants, or when people dump organic material such as garbage or grass clippings into the bins.
It’s not an uncommon problem across the country, but seems to be greater here, he said.
Nationally, about 25% of recyclables are contaminated and cannot be recycled, according to the National Waste and Recycling Association.
Neeb said in Roswell, about 40% of materials in the bins become contaminated and have to be dumped in the landfill. Much of that is due to a lack of education, and Neeb said the city will work with Keep Roswell Beautiful and Keep Chaves County Beautiful to make more information available.
“We’ll continue the conversations with recycling anyway. We believe the diversion out of our landfill is beneficial to us, too,” Neeb said.
“If everything goes to the landfills, then that has a tendency to fill up those cells quicker, which means we have to expand out farther,” he said.
City/RISD reporter Juno Ogle can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 205, or email@example.com.