Provo recycles environment ideas

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    By Erika Beecham

    Provo, along with five neighboring cities, has taken a step towards improving recycling services in Southern Utah County.

    On Wed., April 17, the Utah Valley Solid Waste District Board, made up of elected officials from Provo and five member cities in the district, voted to develop and consider proposals that would expand recycling and composting services.

    The board recognized that the solid waste district will have to subsidize any expansion of a recycling and composting program. But the board agreed to hear proposals that will be researched by Richard Henry, district manager for the South Utah Valley Solid Waste District and a technical committee made up of appointed officials from five member cities in the district.

    The committee will research options and then make a proposal to the board, Henry said.

    However, building a drop-off center in Provo is the most likely option, Henry said.

    The center would simplify recycling by giving Southern Utah County residents the option of taking recyclables such as aluminums, newspapers, cardboard and plastics to one location, he said.

    A drop-off center is the best option right now because it is cheaper than having a curbside pick-up service and residents would not have to pay a subscription fee to recycle, Henry said.

    Orem and Salt Lake have curbside pick-up recycling programs, but it would cost an extra $7 a month for Provo residents that subscribe to the pick-up service when in the past a similar fee-based program failed when not enough residents subscribed to keep the program running, said Scott Peppler, Provo”s public service director.

    Henry said residents are very willing to have a recycling program, “as long as they don”t have to pay for it.”

    Recycling is expensive because of the number of workers and equipment needed to gather the recyclables that must be taken to Salt Lake to be processed, Henry said.

    “Dollar for dollar it”s cheaper to just throw material away,” said Smokey Pack, district recycling manager of waste management of Utah.

    Pack said although it”s more expensive to recycle, Orem views recycling in the long-term. If Orem waits to build a recycling program the costs are only going to go up as the price of equipment necessary to recycle will go up. Recycling will save Orem money in the long run as it will extend the life of the landfills Orem uses because the landfills will fill up slower.

    Orem residents who want the service subscribe to the service and pay an extra $4 per month. Orem”s program almost failed until the city helped push for subscribers by advertising. The program had only 300 subscribers when it began compared to the almost 3,800 subscribers, which the program now has, Pack said.

    Henry said curbside pick-up would be more expensive for Provo because there would be more travel time and expense involved in taking the recyclables up to Salt Lake processing center.

    Curbside pick-up is “still an option, but it”s not likely to happen in the near future,” Henry said.

    Henry said residents may not feel pressure to recycle because there is at least 70-80 years left before Provo”s landfill fills up.

    Debbie Booth, recycling coordinator for Salt Lake City, said Salt Lake residents demanded a recycling program “because they feel it”s a way they can make a difference.”

    Salt Lake has had a curbside pick-up recycling service since 1993 and the program continues to expand, Booth said.

    She said the long-term benefits of having a program outweigh the immediate costs of recycling.

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