Maryville to police recycling centers
By Iva Butler | (email@example.com)
Maryville is planning to limit its recycling centers to use by city residents, reduce hours and shut down one center.
Recycling is so popular in this community that the three free Maryville recycling centers, recycler ROCKTenn and the city are overwhelmed with recyclables.
Cardboard, glass, paper, aluminum and metals are filling the blue trailers at the centers and spewing out onto the ground when the receptacles are full, especially on weekends and holidays.
ROCKTenn, which provides the service at no charge to the city, primarily is a recycler and the trucks and manpower the company has available are not meeting the need. When possible, public works crews supplement ferrying the full trailers to the Knox recycling yard and replacing them with empty bins.
Recycling complaints are coming in to city council members and city staff.
At a recent retreat, Maryville City Council agreed to make drastic changes limiting users to Maryville residents, cutting hours and closing one center.
“It’s a transportation issue. ROCKTenn has the capacity to handle more materials,” said Maryville Mayor Tom Taylor.
Maryville Director of Engineering and Public Works Angie Luckie said “ROCKTenn is amazed at how much people here recycle. Most of what we get is recyclable (as opposed to garbage that cannot be recycled). We’re doing all we can at this time.”
Being unstaffed centers, both city and county residents drop off their recyclables in the centers. Some county residents are not aware the centers are intended for city use only.
“We’re serving the county with city funds,” Luckie said.
“No matter what we do we get complaints,” added Maryville City Manager Greg McClain. “We can’t keep doing this. It only gets worse.”
Currently the three unmanned centers on Best Street, off East Lamar Alexander Parkway across from the hospital and near High Praises Church on East Broadway Avenue are available on a 24-hour, seven-day basis.
The city will be closing the East Broadway location. There are only two bins there, and it is starting to grow into a problem, with people dumping trash there, Luckie said. The centers do not accept Styrofoam, plastic bags, junk, garbage, tires, paint and window glass.
The closure will free up two other bins for the other two centers.
Luckie said the workload in February in public works will allow her to provide one person to staff the centers during the day.
She does not know where the money would come from for the other 11 months. She estimated hiring three people to police the centers would cost $270,000 a year.
“I think recycling is going to continue to grow. Single-stream is easy,” McClain said.
Previously, residents had to separate recyclables and place them in separate bins. Now all recyclables can be placed together and are then separated at the ROCKTenn plant off Middlebrook Pike in Knoxville.
“We’ve either got to exercise more control or not do it any more,” said Councilman Joe Swann. “If we can’t scale it back to what we can afford, then we don’t need to be doing it. You’ve got to police it some way. I think we’ve got to limit what we’re doing,”
Taylor said he hates to stop county residents recycling, but the city can’t afford the cost.
The centers are not moneymakers for the city, but the state mandated that waste going to landfills be reduced 25 percent, and there is a proposal to go up to 50 percent. “I think someday it will happen,” McClain said.
The recycling centers help meet the mandate.
Alcoa provides curbside recycling through blue containers picked up every two weeks and RecycleBank roll-out containers, which residents pay for and get discounts at area businesses for the pounds recycled.
The reduction mandate is for the entire county, so any recycled materials counts for all governmental bodies.
No county program
The county has no recycling program.
In February, the centers will open at yet-to-be-set daylight hours and reduced hours on Saturdays. Gates will be closed after hours nights and all day Sundays.
County residents will be turned away. “That’s the only way to put pressure on the county to pay their part,” Swann said.
Eventually Maryville is expected to take recycling curbside. Recycling containers for all 10,000 households would cost around $577,000.
The city plans to conduct another survey to find out the opinions of residents on recycling.
Last time a survey was done, 65 percent wanted curbside pickup but only 30 percent were willing to pay $4 to $6 a month for it.