Trash Talk: Foley officials discuss options during temporary recycling hold

By Jessica Vaughn
Posted 4/13/20

FOLEY - At the beginning of April, Foley announced it would be putting a temporary hold on recycling pickups. This is due to the method of pickup. Whereas trash is collected three days a week with …

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Trash Talk: Foley officials discuss options during temporary recycling hold

Posted

FOLEY - At the beginning of April, Foley announced it would be putting a temporary hold on recycling pickups. This is due to the method of pickup. Whereas trash is collected three days a week with the use of an automated side loading truck, recycling is picked up one day a week via manual methods. To reduce the risk to city employees who handle recycling cans, the decision to put the collection on a temporary halt was made.

“Do we have the capacity to pick up the garbage in place of the recycling?” asked Council President Wayne Trawick. “If you have a bunch of people suddenly staying home who are used to getting the recycling out and getting the garbage out, I think that we’re going to be overrun. So do we have the capacity to pick up garbage twice a week while we’ve got recycling turned off? That’s not something I want to do permanently, if we do it we’ll put a date on it.”

City Administrator Mike Thompson stated while he does agree something needs to be done, he’s unsure if the Sanitation Department would be able to do garbage pickup twice a week. Since the normal garbage pickup is over the course of three days and recycling only takes one, he states there’s no way Sanitation could do three days’ worth of work in that one extra day.

“One day doesn’t offset what takes effectively three days of routes,” he said. “The difference is maybe only one in ten people do recycling, so it only takes one day to do that pickup, while it takes three to pick up typical garbage.”

Other councilmembers weighed in with their thoughts on the situation. Ralph Hellmich suggested allowing citizens to bring excess garbage to Sanitation to dispose of it. While signs are up stating no one is to put household garbage on top of recycling, he suggested suspending those rules for the time being due to the current situation.

Vera Quaites suggested allowing citizens to request an extra garbage can at no extra charge for the time being. Thompson agreed to discuss with the Sanitation Department if there was a possibility of temporarily issuing a second garbage can to citizens on request until the recycling schedule was back.

“Going to one day pickup from a two-day pickup, your garbage is filling up faster,” said Hellmich. “I know my recycling can will get almost full, so now it’s full and I’m filling my regular garbage can up with recyclables, and there’s just no room. And for the automated truck to work you can’t leave extra bags on the lid or beside the can, so what do you do? Right now we’re forcing people to fill their regular cans up with recyclables, and a couple by themselves won’t fill that up, but if you’ve got a family of three, four, or five people, you will.”

The city will continue to look into alternatives to this problem to determine the best action to take. For more on Foley’s efforts during the COVID-19 pandemic, visit cityoffoley.org.