During this week's Street Talk interviews with area residents, it quickly became evident that there is not only a need for mandatory curbside recycling, but also passionate support for a town-subsidized program.
According to Payson Mayor Barbara Brewer, creating such a law is not as simple as it sounds. "There is no law that says we have the authority to mandate curbside recycling or trash service," she said. "I just spoke to Buzz Walker about this, and he is going to provide me with some talking points. I am also calling Sen. Jake Flake to see if we can write a resolution that provides us that option."
But the mayor said this is not just about recycling. "There's a bigger picture here. It would have to be in conjunction with mandatory garbage collection. Trash is ending up in our forests and other people's dumpsters. People sometimes even go into a neighborhood and put garbage in someone else's residential trash cans."
Brewer also expressed concerns about damage to the roads caused by multiple garbage trucks from different companies.
"If we could have only one truck drive through our residential areas it would help save our roads. The weight of those trucks really does a lot of damage and we have several roads that are already in pretty bad shape."
In the last two years the current town council has spent more than $3 million on new roads or road repairs -- more than double the amount spent in past years, Brewer said.
Brewer estimated the Buckhead Mesa Landfill has only 10 more years until it reaches capacity. So recycling will become even more imperative.
However, there are some people who have already expressed concerns to town leaders about the possibility of a law that mandates curbside recycling and trash collection.
"I had a man tell me, ‘Absolutely not. You're not going to pass a law that forces me to pay for additional services. I take care of my own trash.'"
And Brewer agrees that town leaders must be sensitive to these issues.
"But when people don't act responsibly, you have to take action."
The town has already ventured into some recycling efforts, providing the dumpsters for paper products at both Wal-Mart and Green Valley Park -- which have been recognized by a national conservation group. The Payson Humane Society provides recycling for aluminum cans and the county landfill makes it possible to recycle some household and industrial waste such as tires, motor oil and a limited number of chemicals. But this barely scratches the surface.
The time is now to take real action to preserve our natural resources and the beauty of the Rim Country. We support local or state legislation that will require curbside recycling and trash collection.
Anyone who loves living in the pristine mountain communities of Northern Arizona can see the importance of creating an affordable, mandated option that reduces littering, vandalism, theft and eliminates the waste of valuable resources.