How Much Would You Pay For Curbside Recycling?

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For months, the Mayor's Recycling Task Force has been traveling to rural communities around Arizona to see how other towns have created recycling programs that work.

The task force is almost finished with the research and data collection phase of their duties, said chairperson Christine Harrison, and may soon be ready to present its findings to the Payson Town Council.

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In Prescott, the local Lions Club has taken on recycling of newspapers as its largest fund-raising project.

The main obstacles facing a viable recycling program in Payson are transportation and the size of the community.

Public Works Director Buzz Walker said the town is working with the task force on possible options.

Currently, the Town of Payson recycles mixed paper and cardboard, with two drop-off locations at Wal-Mart and Green Valley Park.

Walker said the Town pays about $25,000 a year for this service.

The Town and the task force is working on a survey that will ask residents about their level of interest in recycling, as well as the amount they would be willing to pay for curbside recycling service. The task force has talked to potential partners, and a company in Snowflake has expressed interest, but the town would need a truck to transport materials.

Harrison said the task force will meet with employees of the Weyerhaeuser company in about two weeks. Along with investments in lumber and transportation, Weyerhaeuser is also heavily involved in recycling.

The task force chair said this company appears to be willing to send a driver up to Payson to pick up items to be recycled.

"The major question is, ‘Do we want to turn this over to a commercial organization?'," she said. Another option would be to have a local service organization take over the recycling efforts as a fund-raiser.

"We would like it to be service clubs, but we have not found any groups that want to take this on," she said.

One of the primary focuses of the task force is looking at the cost the town is paying for recycling.

"To not have any cost would be a good idea," she said. Harrison mentioned recycled paper sells for $65 to $100 a ton. A full truck, she said, could carry about 20 tons.

Walker said the only way to break even is if there was no fee for labor or transportation.

"We are currently exploring ways to reduce the number of recyclable materials," he said. "It's almost like natural law. Someone has to do the work, and someone has to haul it."

Harrison said another obstacle is finding an individual who has experience with balers and crushers.

"In general, the people in Payson want to recycle," she said. The task force expects to give a recommendation to the mayor and council within the next two months.

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