Richland backs voluntary curbside recycling plan

RICHLAND — Richland residents soon will have the option of curbside recycling, but they will see a higher bill for basic trash collection and will have to pay to use the city landfill.

The Richland City Council voted 4-3 Tuesday to support the voluntary curbside recycling program and start charging residents $10 per trip to take waste to the landfill, a service that has been free.

And all households also will be issued a yard waste container to recycle grass clippings and tree trimmings, which will be included in the new cost of basic residential service.

Beginning in March, the cost of basic monthly trash service in Richland will rise from the current $14.97 — the rate since 2005 — to $16.90, said Pete

Rogalsky, public works director. Included in that amount is an 80 cent per month fee for pickup every two weeks of yard waste, scheduled from March 1 to Nov. 30 every year, according to city staff.

Richland households also will have the option, for $5.70 monthly, of curbside recycling service, which also would be every other week. Basic trash collection will continue every week.

Higher costs, for everything from staff to fuel, prompted the need for the increased collection fees, Rogalsky said.

But the proposal to start charging residents for use of the landfill generated the most discussion among council members. Councilwoman Sandra Kent even proposed an amendment that would have eliminated the $10 charge and made curbside recycling mandatory citywide, but it was defeated.

“I have heartburn over the $10,” said council member Phillip Lemley, who joined Bob Thompson and David Rose in opposing the new fees.

Mayor John Fox, Kent and council members Ed Revell and Sheila Sullivan voted in favor.

Residents will be able to recycle curbside aluminum, tin, cardboard, certain plastics, newspapers and magazines, but not glass. People still can take glass to the nine drop-box collection sites around the city, which have separate bins for green, brown and clear glass.

“Glass is a negative value in these processing plants,” Rogalsky said. “It has the least reuse value, and it is way cheap to manufacture because it is made of sand. To process it you have to remove the paper label and glue residue, wash it and crush it.”

Rogalsky said it’s estimated from 20 percent to 40 percent of households in Richland may elect to participate in the curbside recycling program.

About 2,500 Richland residents have been part of a curbside recycling and garbage collection pilot program since May. About 75 percent of the households, Rogalsky said, asked to receive yard waste containers.

Curbside containers will be available to those who request it, but the city currently only has a limited number available. Rogalsky said the city plans to buy more according to demand.

“We’re looking at late spring before a lot of new customers can be added on,” he said.

He believes recycling and yard waste collection will pay for themselves because the programs will be scaled to the number of customers participating.

The city plans a broad public outreach and education effort about the new curbside recycling program, he said.

-- Kevin McCullen: 509-582-1535; kmccullen@tricityherald.com