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City discusses curbside recycling
Garbage cans

A curbside recycling program is under consideration by the city of McMinnville. The initial startup estimate is over $600,000.

“We would need a new side loader truck which is $270,000, estimated,” said McMinnville Public Works assistant director Brad Hennessee. “We have 4,700 of those 96-gallon, rollout carts that are assigned to residential addresses. If you gave everybody who has a garbage cart a recycling cart, then 4,700 of those at $65 each is $305,500 for an initial investment of $575,500. At our current labor rates the annual recurring labor rates for a driver is $36,909 for a cost of $612,409 for the first-year expenses.”

The preliminary cost numbers were presented during a Streets and Sanitation Committee meeting to discuss the department’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2018-19. McMinnville officials have discussed establishing a curbside recycling program for the past several years.

“I would think if you have your trash in one and your recyclables in the other, you are not going to have the same amount of trash in each one,” said Alderman Ben Newman. “I don’t know if you would be able to extend your trash pickup routes or if it’s more of a time thing.”

Hennessee replied that they are entering the unknown.

“We don’t know,” he said. “The typical recycling rate is about 33 percent in residential in cities that are considered successful recyclers. What that would mean for us is roughly 3,300 tons of recyclables per year. We send approximately 10,000 tons per year to the landfill.”

If the city met the 33 percent threshold as a successful recycler, the cost savings of not placing that into a landfill would be approximately $147,458.

Hennessee said there are still other decisions to be made.

“There are what I consider significant unknown factors at this point in recycling for us,” said Hennessee. “One is who sorts it? Does the city go into that business or do we turn that over to someone like McMinnville Green? Second, then what would the arrangement be? Would we dump it and they bail it and sell it and they get the money or does the city get part of that money in return? That information is needed before we can figure out whether its break even, a money maker, or a cost.”

Alderman Everett Brock stated he would give the items collected away, if the city could recoup the cost for the day-to-day operations after the initial startup expense in order to keep those items out of the landfill.

Hennessee added, “At this point, all we can give is the equipment needs and the anticipated labor cost because there is not an agreement in place to determine the other numbers. If McMinnville Green comes to us and says it can take plastics, glass and cardboard right now, we could develop numbers based off that. We just don’t know what the cost would be.”

The measure was discussion only. No decision has been made.