Residents express recycling woes
May 1, 2019
A discussion about a proposed senior discount for Green River residents shifted focus to the curbside recycling program offered by Wyoming Waste Management Tuesday evening, with many residents voicing displeasure with the service.
The Green River City Council hosted a workshop discussion Tuesday night, with open of the topics covering a senior discount. Workshop meetings are focused on discussion only, and no official action is taken by the Council.
Councilman Gary Killpack asked WWS Rock Springs Site Manager Michelle Foote what the company is doing with recycling, which Foote replied that items collected through the curbside pickup program are going directly to the landfill.
This situation is what many residents at the meeting were unhappy about.
Mike Lynch, a resident on East Teton Boulevard, spoke to the Council about how unhappy is was to see WWS trucks picking up garbage and recycling in the same truck.
“Boy, did that p### me off,” Lynch said.
Lynch also expressed displeasure with WWS not picking up his garbage on his scheduled day, Friday.
He said it isn’t uncommon for his garbage to be picked up on Saturday, despite being told Friday is the pickup day.
A second resident, Norm Shantz, believes the recycling program is a waste of time and money for Green River’s residents, viewing the impact the recycling program has on the landfill as minimal at best.
He is in favor of ending the curbside recycling program and setting up stop points in the city for people to drop off their recycling.
“How big an impact is it making on our landfill,” Shantz asked. “We’re a small town and we’re paying a premium for recycling.”
Teresa Thybo voiced similar concerns to Lynch, who also has a Friday pickup day and said her trash sometimes sits out during the weekend and is picked up on Monday. With recycling, she blames the lack of education from WWS on how to properly prepare materials for recycling as a major reason why WWS has problems with contamination. She said if residents were properly educated on how to clean their recycling, the contamination would decrease.
Thybo also took issue with WWS not informing people their curbside recycling was going straight to the landfill, only finding out after reading an article in the Green River Star.
“If you’re going to do business with us, you have to communicate with us,” she said.
Thybo also wonders how much more garbage is being landfilled in Green River after news broke the recycling goes straight to the landfill, saying she throws more into the trash after no longer bothering with recycling.
While the lack of sorting space available to WWS is an issue, a major component to the problem is contamination of recyclable materials. Foote said the curbside program generates an average of 3.85 tons a day during its 10 pickup days a month.
When WWS was sorting the materials, she said about one-third of the recycling was contaminated or non recyclable and was sent to the landfill. Another problem is with the business of recycling itself.
“Recycling as a whole isn’t profitable,” Foote said.
Using cardboard as an example, Foote said a shipment of cardboard costs $2,000 to deliver to the paper mill recycling the material, not including staff time spent sorting and baling the cardboard. However, WWS only receives $600 for a shipment. She said the company wants to honor its agreement with the city and provide recycling regardless of the loss they take on it and said more opportunities in recycling are opening up nationwide. She said the company is planning to construct a building at their Rock Springs facility to sort recycling it collects until the city’s transfer station is repaired and open to sorting again.
The building would then be used to store the materials until ready for shipment because Foote said it is more profitable if only one material is shipped at a time.
Foote agrees with education being a problem, but said she felt it would have been hypocritical of the company to educate residents on proper recycling while simply taking it to the landfill anyway.
She also said residents who want to ensure their recycling gets properly recycled should drop their materials off at the sorting bins outside the transfer station.
The proposed senior discount would lower the cost of service to residents 62 and older to $29.50. Foote said residents would have to show proof of age, likely by showing their driver’s license or Identification card to someone at WWS. This option allows seniors to keep the trash bins they’re using, as well as recycling and green waste pick up.
A second option, which would have replaced seniors’ regular 95-gallon bins with 65-gallon bins at a $26.50 a month price, was not supported because ordering the bins would have delayed the start of the discount program and raised concerns that the smaller trash bin would make it easier for people to identify where seniors live.
Foote said WWS expects 350-400 residences to take advantage of the program.