City of Knoxville banks on long-term savings for recycling progr

City of Knoxville banks on long-term savings for recycling program

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"It's been a wonderful program," said resident Ruth Hungerford. "I'm so proud Knoxville is doing the right thing, so we don't have to drive hither and yond to take the recycling." "It's been a wonderful program," said resident Ruth Hungerford. "I'm so proud Knoxville is doing the right thing, so we don't have to drive hither and yond to take the recycling."
"I think if you look at the tonnage diverted from the landfill, added another 3,000 plus tons that's not going to the landfill or being driven up the interstate to a Class 1 landfill, is important and a sign of success," David Brace said. "I think if you look at the tonnage diverted from the landfill, added another 3,000 plus tons that's not going to the landfill or being driven up the interstate to a Class 1 landfill, is important and a sign of success," David Brace said.

By MIKE KRAFCIK
6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - The city of Knoxville started offering curbside recycling two years ago.

Officials hoped the program would pay for itself by offsetting costs associated with collection with the money it brought in from recycling bottles and cans.

But has the program really worked like city officials planned?

In West Knoxville Tuesday, crews were collecting recycling from some of the 20,000 residents taking part in the city's curbside recycling program, a free service for qualifying residents.

"It's been a wonderful program," said resident Ruth Hungerford. "I'm so proud Knoxville is doing the right thing, so we don't have to drive hither and yond to take the recycling."

But don't count on the program saving taxpayer money, at least right away.
 
"There were new costs, there were some savings. Obviously it's a service the city provides, so there are costs provided with that," said David Brace.

The contract with a waste company to pick up the material is worth nearly a million dollars.
     
But the city plans to save around $80,000 in fuel costs, since the material ends up at  Rock-Tenn, a recycling processing facility in Knoxville, instead of taking it to a landfill in Anderson County.

"I think if you look at the tonnage diverted from the landfill, added another 3,000 plus tons that's not going to the landfill or being driven up the interstate to a Class 1 landfill, is important and a sign of success," Brace said.

More than 5,000 tons were collected from the curbside program in 2012.

But the city now has to deal with people using the recycling centers less. Around 1,600 fewer tons are coming into drop-off centers.

In an effort to reduce costs and since less recyclables are coming into the eleven recycling centers, the city will close a recycling center near Clinton Highway by the end of the month.

The closure of the Melton Road center will save the city $40,000 a year. Closing other drop-off centers is a possibility.

"With the curbside program, you don't need as many drop centers, but you still need the drop centers for people who live in apartment complexes that haven't been able to sign up," Brace said.

Although the curbside program is capped at 20,000 households, the city is confident the program will pay off.

"I think as these markets mature and we see fuel and oil costs continue to rise, this will be a benefit," he said.
     
The city also points to saving a half million dollars a year because of reducing the availability of free back door garbage service.

There are 1,900 people on the waiting list for the curbside program. Mayor Madeline Rogero has expressed interest in expanding the program.

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