Recycling program in final year

By Sarah Pridgeon

As the city’s recycling program moves into its final contracted period, Joe Bunnell of Northern Hills Recycling paid an impromptu visit to the council at last week’s regular meeting to update them on its progress.

The program is now averaging 13.5 tons per month, higher in the summer than in the winter. This is partly due to tourism and bikers during the summer months, said Bunnell.

No scheduling problems remain, he added, except for new employees who have yet to learn the small side streets not marked on the map and during an incident in January when a female employee was involved in a rollover accident on the way to Sundance and was consequently unable to complete her rounds.

The city is now only receiving complaints if one of the bins happens to turn over, said Clerk-Treasurer Kathy Lenz. This will be largely addressed with lids, Bunnell replied.

Mayor Paul Brooks commented that the recycling program has been important to the process of designing and construction the city’s transfer station because it gives an accurate picture of how much trash will be recycled.

“A common problem in the State of Wyoming is that early transfer stations were sized before recycling,” he explained. “So now they’re recycling, they’re way over-sized and overstaffed.”

Construction materials at the transfer station have caused troubles for the recycling program at the landfill site, however, making it difficult to place the recycling bins. This will be alleviated when the station is completed, confirmed Public Works Director Larry Schommer.

“It’s going to be six months of trying to make it through, and then we’ll be in the building,” he said.

Other cities are now showing interest in the program, said Bunnell. Spearfish is interested, for example, and he expressed a “personal feeling they’ll be doing it within the year, real similar to here.”

The structure of the program is also working well, he added. Some cities of a similar size, such as Lead, set up drop-off points instead of collecting bins; in these places, an average of three to four tons is collected a month, compared to two or three tons each time the collectors visit Sundance.

“There’s a big difference going door to door than setting up a drop-off,” Bunnell said.

The initial contract with Northern Hills Recycling is for three years and will end in May 2014.