Stanton votes to not include curbside pickup for recyclables in trash contract

By Ryan Schlehuber "Scoop" • Last Updated 11:11 am on Thursday, January 28, 2016

Stanton residents currently drop off recyclables at collection sites like this one operated by Montcalm County. Curbside recycling pickup is not included in the city’s new solid waste contract with Republic Services, but it is a feature that could be added in the future. — Daily News/Cory Smith

STANTON — Curbside pickup for recyclables won’t be a part of Stanton’s benefits with a new trash service contract with Republic Services, but it’s still an option.

The Stanton City Commission unanimously voted Tuesday night to finalize a five-year contract with Republic Services, which has serviced the city for solid waste pickup for more than 10 years.

City Manager Jake Eckholm explained the contract has a provision for curbside pickup for recyclables, which would also include education on recyclables and a 96-gallon container, amounting to an additional $59.40 a year (roughly $5 a month) on property tax statements for each household within the city.

Residents would be charged the cost of curbside pickup whether they used it or not, if the commission chose to include the option in the contract. In the contract, bag prices were also reduced to $1.50 a bag. Currently, Stanton residents can drop off recyclables at a collection site operated by Montcalm County.

Eckholm said when a community incorporates a curbside pickup for recyclables, the amount of recyclables collected increases as much as 60 percent, according to studies.

For Mayor Monica Daws-Tissue, the environmental impact outweighs what residents would have to pay for curbside pickup.

“I think the cost is minimal for the increment of increase if statistically we’re going to see a 60 percent increase in people recycling for $5 a month,” Tissue-Daws said. “So why not use it? Especially for people using the bag service, you’re going to save that much more on your bags. If you’re buying the bags and if you can put that much more into recycling, you’re saving yourself money really.”

Some commissioners, however, expressed their concern for residents not liking the extra costs; and especially for elderly residents having to learn a new recycling system.

“My only concern is we’ve got a lot of elderly people here and I’m sure as I’m sitting here that we’re going to start receiving complaints about (with residents saying) ‘Oh, we were forced into this,’” said Commissioner Lewis Corwin.

“I have two thoughts,” Commissioner Ken Burris added. “One is that if I start knocking on doors and tell people I’m going to raise your taxes $59, I’m going to have a lot of doors slammed in my face. The other thing, I haven’t heard of any great demand for having curbside pickup.”

Commissioner Krista Johnson said as long as residents have the county’s collection site as an option, the cost of curbside pickup is going to be a “hard sell.”

“I do like that if it gets to the point where we’re going to lose that option or if that option is going to be less cost effective then we have this,” she said. “As of now, though, I’d be against the curbside pickup.”

The curbside pickup option can be added at any time during the current contract, according to Republic’s Municipal Services Manager Matt Biolette, who attended Tuesday’s meeting.

Daws-Tissue said the issue of curbside pickup, regardless of its benefits, probably won’t be brought up again until the Montcalm County drop-off site is no longer an option.

“Mark my words, no one will even bring it up again because they don’t care,” Daws-Tissue said. “You know what I mean, it’s just as easy to throw it in your trash. That’s the whole problem with recycling is that people don’t embrace it.”

Corwin described a “pitch it and forget about it” mentality within the community, which Daws-Tissue said is exactly why there are environmental issues.

“You can’t do that to infinity or we’re all going to be living in a dump,” she said.

Burris summed up the conversation, saying it is better to wait on the curbside pickup option until the city has a better idea on how Montcalm County’s recycling collections sites are faring.

“Every one of them is having a problem,” he said regarding the county’s recycling sites, “and sooner or later that’s probably gonna come to an end, and then you’ll have no choice but curbside.”

The Mid-Michigan District Health Department oversees Montcalm County’s recycling program. When contacted by The Daily News about Burris’ comments, Health Office Marcus Cheatham said the county’s recycling program is doing well and he has only received positive feedback from county officials.

“I don’t have any sense that the program is going away,” he said.

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