AMERICAN FORK — The American Fork City Council has decided to develop an opt-out citywide recycling program, as opposed to the more traditional opt-in programs that are seen throughout the state.

The decision would mean that American Fork residents will be notified that they are now involved in a recycling pick-up program unless they choose to not be involved in the program by notifying the city.

"It will save the city about $50,000 annually on dumping fees," said American Fork Mayor Heber Thompson. "We pay a dumping fee for all the garbage that is unsorted, so this helps cut down that cost. That figure of money was of course based on a 50 percent take rate throughout the city, which I think is realistic."

If half the city chose to keep the service, it would more than double the amount of people that participate currently.

The decision was made after a 3-2 vote amongst council members. After the vote, the council instructed city staff to work on the program by drafting an ordinance that would determine whether residents would be able to opt out of the program at any time or if it needed to be done by a specific date.

Allied Waste, the city's current recycling provider, proposed the program to the city. The estimated cost would be about $5 per household.

"I think the goal is to be more responsible with the environment by being better stewards with what we have been given," said Thompson.

The council members who voted against the decision said they were not opposed to recycling, they just felt the decision came a little too quickly.

"I recycle myself, but when I put that decision on thousands of other people I feel the burden is on me for how this will save us money, and I wanted to have some time for studies to come in and facts to be presented," said council member Heidi Rodeback.

Rodeback felt that if the program saves the city money it is a good thing, but she was uncomfortable with some of the generalizations about the money savings that were presented. She said that her vote was procedural.

Rodeback said that the goal for implementation of the program would be November.


E-mail: ethomas@desnews.com