Beginning Nov. 13, all Rim country residents will be able to participate in a Town of Payson-endorsed curbside recycling program.
According to Public Works Director Buzz Walker, the new program is actually a joint venture between two private companies, Roadrunner Rubbish of Payson and Arizona Recycling Curbside Specialists (ARCS) of Phoenix.
"We are always looking for creative ways to do things, and involving private industry is probably more efficient than if we operated the program ourselves," Walker said.
Known as a "two-bag system," participating residents put newspapers, magazines and junk mail in clear recycling bags and bottles, cans, aluminum and plastics in blue recycling bags. When the bags are removed each week by Roadrunner, new bags are left for the following week.
Cost of the program is $1.60 per month for Roadrunner customers.
Tyler Tabar, president of ARCS, emphasized the fact that the program is area-wide and not limited to residents of Payson.
"We will go everywhere in the Rim country, including modular home parks and apartment buildings and other multi-family housing."
He also stressed the environmental advantages of the program.
"What it means is that Rim country landfills will last a lot longer," Tabar said. "The average home generates eight to 10 pounds of recyclables a week, not counting newspapers.
"If 4,000 homes participate in the program, which is not unreasonable considering that similar programs enjoy about 80 percent participation, that means 16 tons will be diverted from your landfills each and every week."
For participants in the program, pick-ups will take place on the same day as their regular Roadrunner trash pick-up, but a different vehicle will be employed. "We will be using smaller vans and trucks, so communities won't have to put up with another big garbage truck coming through each week," Tabar said.
The Rim country will be one of the first rural areas in Arizona to participate in a curbside recycling program, according to Tabar.
"Actually Arizona as a state is eight to 10 years behind the rest of the nation in recycling," Tabar said. "Bag systems are common in Chicago, Michigan, Kentucky and other places back east."
ARCS branched off from an Indiana company that has provided recycling services since 1989. It specializes in providing recycling services for multi-housing developments and in providing tailor-made programs to fit the needs of both large and small communities.
Once the residential program is up and running in the Rim country, ARCS plans to introduce other programs. "We'll be offering a separate program for businesses that will reduce their trash hauling costs," Tabar promised.
The Town of Payson has also applied for a grant that will allow it to hold an annual household hazardous products collection day, tentatively scheduled for May 6 at Wal-Mart.
"If and when that happens," Walker said, "the town will have gone about as far as it can in the area of recycling.
"Considering that until July 1 when we introduced our mixed paper recycling bins we had nothing, we've come a long way in a very short time frame," he said. "And we hope this program will take some of the pressure off those paper bins."
Some curbside programs have been criticized because customers are charged a recycling fee and then material picked up is simply dumped in landfills, but that won't happen with the Rim country program according to Tabar.
"We guarantee that everything we pick up will go to a material recovery facility," he said.
Rim country residents interested in signing up for the curbside recycling program can call Roadrunner at 474-0603 or ARCS at (480) 759-1437.
The Town of Payson will also provide educational presentations on the new program at local schools and for other groups and organizations upon request. To schedule a presentation, contact Jeff Durbin at 474-5242, extension 2379.