ST. GEORGE — A resolution adopting an ordinance to implement curbside recycling in the City of St. George is up for approval by the City Council Thursday. With the idea receiving a largely favorable response from city officials since the council began discussing it last year, the ordinance is anticipated to pass. The program is anticipated to start Jan. 1, 2016.
Following the potential approval of the recycling ordinance Thursday, the city will launch an educational campaign aimed at helping residents understand the benefits of the program, and if they feel so inclined, how to opt out of it.
“Aug. 6 is going to be the kickoff with the next City Council meeting,” Deanna Brklacich, the city’s administrative services director, said during a council work meeting last week.
Brklacich’s department is the one responsible for tracking an estimated 30,000 residential accounts that get solid waste disposal service, and soon, curbside recycling service. Each of those accounts needs to be notified about the pending implementation of the new program and the options concerning it.
The program applies to residential accounts only, and not commercial accounts.
One of the items people will want to know is if the curbside recycling is mandatory or not and if they can opt out of it.
The program will not be mandatory for those who choose to opt out during a 60-day opt-out period slated to begin Sept. 1 and run through Oct. 31. Following that date, those who chose not to respond are automatically enrolled into the program.
Residents who choose to opt out and move to a new location within city limits take their opt-out status with them. Move-ins from outside the city will automatically be enrolled after the 60-day opt-out period.
Though billed through the city, the matter of collecting the recyclable materials will be overseen by the Washington County Solid Waste District. The initial cost per household per month for cities like St. George that allow residents to opt out is $3.82 per household per month. The city is adding an additional 18 cents to the charge to cover administrative costs on its end, bringing it to a $4 charge.
If a household doesn’t want to participate in the program, however, what are their options?
Once the ordinance is likely approved Thursday, Brklacich and Marc Mortensen, assistant to the city manager, said the city will launch notifications and an educational campaign through various means available to the city to get the word out.
Following the possible passing of the recycling ordinance, a website detailing the program overall will be launched by the Solid Waste District that is meant to educate the public on the benefits of the recycling program.
Links to pages detailing how individual cities in the county will be administrating the curbside recycling program will also be available, and give a breakdown of how much each city is charging for the serving. A Frequently-Asked-Questions section will also be featured, as will links to opt-out options for the cities that offer it.
Households that opt-out during the original 60-day period can opt-in at a later time if they decide to.
“This is not an opt-out campaign,” Mortensen said. “This is a curbside recycling campaign, and we’re going to treat it like that. We want people to be educated as to why we’re doing this and what type of things they can recycle.”
Facets of the campaign will involve media in print, radio, public city signage and social media, Mortensen said. This will include brochures, a story in the city’s “Inside St. George” magazine, radio ads, news stories, notifications on utility bills during the opt-out period and other means.
“We’re trying to minimize surprises for anyone after the 60 days is up,” Mortensen said.
The educational campaign will run before, during and after the opt-out period and also into the implementation phase of the program.
“We’re going to try and use as many avenues as we can,” Brklacich said.
Aside from the forthcoming website, other ways people will be able to opt out of the program if they choose will be over the phone or in person at the city office’s utility counter.
While St. George is providing an opt-out option, other cities, such as Hurricane, Santa Clara, Ivins and Springdale, are not. They will get a somewhat lower base charge of $3.62 per month. That charge could fluctuate depending on overall enrollment in the program throughout the county.
If enrollment reaches 70 percent or higher, the cost could go down to $2.94, solid waste district officials said in June. If overall participation drops below 50 percent, the program could be put on hold.
While the program will apply to residential units that already have a solid waste receptacle – a fancy term for your outdoor trash can – residents of apartment complexes and townhomes that use dumpsters will be exempt, Washington County Solid Waste District Manager Neil Schwendiman said.
As for the recycle bins that have been used in St. George and around the county, the solid waste district will continue to offer the “binnie” service to county residents. A benefit of the bins is that they can accept glass, while the curbside service cannot, Schwendiman said.
Last year, Washington County diverted over 1,700 tons from the county landfill through recycling, Larry Gibbons, of Rocky Mountain Recycling, told the City Council in February. That number has been steadily increasing since 2011 when 1,443 tons of recyclable waste was diverted from the county landfill.
That number only represents 3 percent of the “municipal solid waste,” or MSW, the county produces, Gibbons said. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, up to 65 percent of MSW is recyclable.
As various cities within the county choose to go to curbside recycling, Gibbons said, the amount of annual MSW recycled could jump to 11,000 tons. It could also add 10 or more years to the life of the county landfill.
While is appears that the City Council may adopt the ordinance and city staff favor it, Mortensen said, facets of the ordinance could change between now and Thursday. The City Council may also choose to not approve the ordinance, he said.
The ordinance being considered Thursday by the City Council applies to St. George only, and does not apply to other municipalities.
St. George News Assistant Editor Julie Applegate contributed to this story.
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