By Magen McCrarey
LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
With increased landfill rates and recycling center storage at full-capacity, the City of London has a plight with trash. City officials are urging citizens to recycle more as they look towards citywide, curbside recycling within the next two to three years.
“We would like to do it sooner than later, but you have to do what your budget allows you to do,” said Steve Edge, director of the city’s Public Works Department.
A 10-year agreement with the Laurel Ridge Landfill ended this month and a new agreement was negotiated, but the price tag per ton was significantly higher than before. Previously, the city had three landfill locations to choose from, but Laurel Ridge Landfill has since closed one facility and purchased the other, creating no outside competition.
“We have got to keep garbage out of the ground…that’s the only way we are going to make ends meet here in the future,” said Mayor Troy Rudder at last week’s city council meeting.
Rudder and Edge believe that making the substantial investment in recycling will benefit the city in the long run.
“We don’t want to raise the individual rates. We want to keep more of the stuff out of the ground and into re-manufacturing,” Rudder said.
Rudder feels $600,000 will be a conservative estimate in order to get the citywide recycling program off the ground. Monies will go toward purchasing of recycling/garbage trucks, a new storage center and bins for each city household. New trucks for recycling will only require one operator instead of three, and will be able to perform more runs than the current garbage trucks.
“We are going to need more people sorting in the recycling center, so we’re not going to lose any help…just move people around and change jobs,” Edge said.
The London-Laurel Recycling Center currently sends out two tractor-trailer loads of recyclables per week to sell, while up to four, full trailer loads are resting on site at all times.
Plastics primarily brings in more money, but because of the lack of volume, cardboard has become the largest source of revenue for the city. “Black” plastics that are normally useless to the center are projected to be sold next year to a new re-manufacturing plant that will generate oil from the plastic.
Recycling not only brings revenue back into the city, but provides funding to the Laurel County School District. Any revenue made from recyclables picked up at the schools is returned to that school to use for classroom expenses. Edge believes teaching the youth to reduce, reuse and recycle is the answer to the city’s future landfill problems.
“The things you learn in grade school are the things you do for the rest of your life,” Edge said.
Recycling trucks pick up recyclables at the schools once a week.
There is currently only one commercial route within the city. The recycling center trucks make about 200 stops at local businesses per-week, and if a second commercial route is added, it should increase the city’s rate of recycling from 15 to 20 percent, according to Edge.
City residents currently pay $10 per monthly for trash pick-up. Two years ago, it was increased from $8. As landfill rates increase, the city knows rates, too, will increase, and that could be an incentive for citizens to recycle more.
“We’re basically giving them the option, and there’s only one good option in my opinion,” Edge said.
The city wants to pay down their debt owed for fire department trucks, before expanding the recycling program. Within the next two to three years, Rudder said, the city will be in good shape to move forward with the recycling program.