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New Hagerstown solid-waste program expands service at lower cost

October 26, 2011|By KATE S. ALEXANDER | kate.alexander@herald-mail.com

HAGERSTOWN — Hagerstown’s new solid-waste contract approved this week will expand services for residents at less cost than what the city pays now.

The five-member Hagerstown City Council Tuesday unanimously approved a new, three-year contract with Waste Management of Pennsylvania starting on Jan. 1, 2012.

Collection for trash, recycling and yard waste will be simplified for most residents into a single, weekly pickup, City Engineer Rodney Tissue said.

The new plan will also save residents a few dollars annually on their refuse bill, according to city documents.

Currently, for $133.22 a year per residential unit, the city’s refuse program offered to residents citywide includes:
• Twice-weekly trash pickup.
• Weekly dual-stream recycling.
• Weekly yard-waste collection.

The balance of what residents pay per year funds bird control, an in-house recycling program, bulk trash pickup, landfill fees for street sweeping and administrative costs, according to city documents.

Under the new program, for an estimated $127.70 a year per residential unit, residents outside the city center will get:
• Weekly trash pickup.
• Weekly single-stream recycling.
• Weekly yard-waste collection.
• New recycling totes.
• A recycling-incentive program.

For the same rate, those inside the “city center” — a boundary yet to be defined — will receive the same service plus an additional weekly collection of trash, according to city documents.

Tissue said the staff is working to define the boundary where it will provide twice-weekly trash collection.

“It’s still a bit of a work in progress,” he said. “Roughly, we are looking at one to two blocks from the square, the 000 and 100 blocks.”

As the boundary is defined, Tissue said the city will monitor how much trash is put on the street.  

What changes the most for residents under the new program is recycling.

Moving from dual-stream to single-stream recycling simplifies the  process as residents will no longer have to sort their recyclables into two bins, but can put everything into a single bin, Tissue said previously.

“It’s all about convenience,” he said.

Councilman Lewis C. Metzner said studies have shown that being able to put all recyclables in one bin leads to significantly more recycling.

Only a fraction of the more than 14,000 residential units in the city currently recycle, Tissue said previously.

Residents at the council meeting Tuesday pointed out that other communities have made recycling mandatory to force residents to participate. But council members said they chose to move to single-stream recycling and add an incentive program to improve Hagerstown’s rate of participation.

Education and marketing will be a key part of the city’s efforts as it transitions to a new hauler and program, Councilman Martin Brubaker said.

To accommodate single-stream recycling, the city plans to purchase new recycling totes for every residential unit in the city, the cost of which was built into the estimated cost per unit per year. Based on new interest rates, it could be lower than estimated, Tissue said previously.

The city will collect and recycle the old totes, or residents can choose to keep theirs, he said.

To further encourage recycling in the city, the new solid-waste contract includes a recycling-incentive plan.

Incentive programs reward residents for recycling based on how much they recycle, Tissue said previously.

Each resident who opts to participate in the incentive program will receive rewards based on the overall recycling of the community, so the more Hagerstown recycles, the more residents will receive in rewards, he said.

However, those who choose to participate in the incentive program must take a new tote because they will have microchips that track each unit’s recycling, he said.

Besides expanding its refuse program for residents, the city will also extend recycling to commercial customers within the city center, Tissue said.

Not all businesses in the city center will be eligible for the collection because commercial trash and recycling will each be limited to 95-gallons, he said.

“It’s ideal for dentists, doctor’s offices and smaller businesses,” he said.  

But, for example, a business the size of The Herald-Mail likely produces too much trash and recycling to qualify for service through the city, he said.  

For the businesses that do qualify, recycling should come with significant cost saving. Under the city’s new contract, recycling will cost a business about $100 per year, Tissue said. 

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