Monday, August 18, 2008

Wentzville to offer more recycling, fewer trash pickups

Wentzville residents next spring will have more of an incentive to recycle.

During a work session earlier this month, aldermen agreed to switch to a once-a-week trash pickup schedule, meaning residents' trash and recycling will be picked up once a week on separate days. Currently, residents' trash is picked up twice a week, recycling bins included.

Wentzville's contract with its trash hauler doesn't expire until spring 2009, but officials will be accepting bids for the contract early to allow time for a transition period.The decision to change trash schedules largely was prompted by what Public Works Director Bill Bensing said was residents' No. 1 complaint: the lack of recycling in the city.

About 80 percent of the average barrel of trash is recyclable, but Wentzville has a recycling rate of only 30 percent, he said. That's half as much as other municipalities in St. Charles County, said Stormwater Management Coordinator Jamie Paige.

Plus, Wentzville doesn't benefit financially from the amount of material it recycles because it doesn't generate enough volume. Instead, the city's trash hauler takes the recyclable material to the transfer station in O'Fallon. If recycling volumes increased, Wentzville could directly receive the resulting revenue - about $15 per ton, Paige has said.

Officials hope a once-a-week pick-up schedule will help the city do just that. That's because residents will use 64-gallon rolling recycling carts rather than 18-gallon bins. The carts will have labels educating residents about what may and may not be recycled. And picking up trash one fewer day per week could force residents to start recycling more, they said. The city's single-stream recycling program will allow residents to combine recyclable paper and mixed containers in one bin for collection, a convenience that typically increases household participation.

Some aldermen said changing trash pick-up schedules was unnecessary, confusing and inconvenient. Residents who are not used to recycling might find it difficult to go a whole week without a second trash pick-up, they said.However, many municipalities have had success with the proposed schedule. Paige noted that Lake Saint Louis and O'Fallon already have a once-a-week trash pick-up, and St. Charles plans to adopt that schedule next year.

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