Nearly half of homes are participating in Clinton’s revamped curbside recycling program, and in excess of 5 tons of recyclable items have been collected through just two days, according to early information from the city’s Public Works and Utilities officials.
“It’s looking like probably 45 percent,” Public Works manager Tony Steffen, judging from rough tallies and information from crews, said Wednesday. “I think we’re a little shy of half.”
He said late Wednesday that 5.4 tons of recyclable items were hauled to Fayetteville, representing the contents of carts picked up Tuesday and Wednesday, along with the collections made from city buildings and the lone convenience site on West John Street.
Recycling collection began on Tuesday following an extensive lead-up to the return of Clinton’s curbside program.
City crews delivered 96-gallon blue roll-out containers to addresses at the beginning of this month, tagging and dropping the containers off to single-family and duplex homes across the city. Each cart will remain property of the delivery address and is electronically identified with a microchip to its delivery address.
“They’re still putting roll-out carts out as they call and request them. And if they don’t want them, we can go pick them up,” said Steffen. “We encourage them to call us. It lets us establish information on who’s using them, and gives us needed information on who wants to participate.”
At the end of last year, the City Council approved entering into a state grant program that would pay half of the $150,000 cost of purchasing 3,000 96-gallon containers. The other $75,000 will come from the city, however that cost is being offset by discontinuing a $55,000 annual contract with Onslow Container Service, which rented and hauled off 30 yard roll-off containers at all four convenience drop-off sites.
Those sites are now completely gone, with the exception of the West John Street location, which now consists of a dozen blue carts like the ones placed at homes across Clinton. The site has been getting continual use since it was set up earlier this month.
“We’re having to service that every day,” said Steffen, “and we placed four more carts out there.”
With two collection days in the books, Tuesday and Wednesday, high curbside participation rates have been seen on Johnson Street, Park Avenue and Stewart Avenue, as well as in the Bellfield community, which Steffen said was the site of “dominant participation” at well over 50 percent. However, a few streets over from areas of high participation, he said, there may be streets with just a couple blue carts dotting the curb so the 45 percent figure could stay fairly steady.
Steffen noted that the convenience site previously stationed near the Sampson Center on Barden Street received the lowest of participation and Steffen said it will be interesting to see if curbside, to be collected in that area Thursday, gets more play. Even if it does not, high participation is expected when homes at Fox Lake and Coharie Country Club are serviced Friday.
Along with single-family and duplexes in Clinton, the recycling service has been extended to local business and other entities as resources — and carts — allow. Steffen said that churches, apartments, city buildings and Schindler Corporation are to be picked up on Mondays. The curbside service is expected to extend regularly to commercial enterprises and other city addresses as the program becomes more successful and grows.
“We’ll keep incorporating them as we go along,” said Steffen.
While the figures are only being estimated at this point, the 45 percent participation number would be a good start if it proves accurate.
“That percentage is strong for just beginning,” Steffen remarked. “You’ve got to bear in mind, we’re still pushing the education piece and trying to get is publicized.”
The city, which began curbside recycling in 1993 using the shallow 18-gallon containers, began exploring other recycling options at the end of 2005 due to contractual issues, increased costs and low participation dipping under 20 percent.
Public works director Jeff Vreugdenhil has said he is confident the city will see a successful program this time around, having learned lessons from other municipalities and traded in small containers for the 96-gallon roll-out carts. He said public education and participation is key.
In the past couple weeks, Public Works crews have distributed pamphlets, brochures, even refrigerator magnets, detailing everything residents need to know about the city’s new program, from what items can and cannot be recycled, how the single-stream collection works, a comprehensive calendar identifying the every-other-week regular collection schedule and holiday schedule, as well as general know-how and positive environmental and fiscal benefits that come with recycling.
Local participation is not mandatory, but is encouraged. While the state average for curbside recycling is around 20 percent, some towns see upwards of 40 percent. That is what city officials want to see.
Steffen said this week has been a good kick-off thus far.
“I think we are transitioning very well,” he said. “I think we’re going to have a good success rate when all is said and done.”
Chris Berendt can be reached at 910-592-8137 ext. 121 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.