The largest curbside recycling program yet attempted in Utah is set to go in West Valley City, with its success hinging on whether residents are willing to pay for the service.
For $3 per month, participants in the "Recycle America" program get an 18-gallon storage bin; a twice-monthly pickup of recyclable paper, aluminum and tin; and a financial payback to the community.About 10,000 households are now receiving service request forms from Waste Management of Salt Lake, the company that handles West Valley's regular garbage collection.
"We hope that everybody will participate, but we would be very happy with 50 percent," said Robert E. Martin, Waste Management general manager. "The minimum expected is 20 percent."
He said the $3 fee is necessary to cover the company's expenses because the sale of the recyclable material won't generate enough money. Company officials hope that conscience and convenience will offset the cost.
"The motive has to be the ecological considerations," said Martin, who believes that interest in recycling has never been higher. "We feel that the time is right for this."
Whether the program continues and expands will depend on the degree of community acceptance. "If we get only one participant in a neighborhood, we may still have to drive down 10 streets, and then the cost per household will be too high," Martin said.
He doesn't expect that to happen, however, explaining that the initial response from the mailed notices, ads and fliers has been positive. "We have had a lot of inquiries and expressions of interest."
Although the city government is not directly involved in the program, West Valley officials have endorsed it and have offered to help promote it. Mayor Brent F. Anderson is scheduled to add his support at a press conference announcing the program Monday morning.
Martin said curbside collection will begin April 22, the week of Earth Day. Participants are asked to place recyclable items in the storage bins - without separating them - and then set them out on the curb at the scheduled times every other week.
"We've tried to make this as easy and as convenient as possible," Martin said.
The company will use a $60,000 customized truck to collect and compartmentalize the items, which will be transported and sold to national recycling companies.
Plastic items - which are high bulk and low weight - won't be included in the recycling effort because they cost more to transport than they generate in income, Martin said. However, he said glass and plastic may be added to the program later.
"Fifty to 100 percent" of all the money from the recycling program will be returned to the community, Martin said. "What we will do is set aside the money in a special account and then once a year, around Earth Day, we will contribute it to community projects."
One candidate for the first year of income is a tree-planting project at West Valley's new park, he said. The company will also consider community clean-up projects and other suggestions.
Waste Management operates 425 curbside recycling programs across the country, with 3.1 million participating households. Anyone interested in "Recycle America" may call the company at 569-8200.