Several Scottsbluff City Council members expressed their opposition to current recycling programs, and want to change or walk away from the Single Stream Recycling Program.
During Monday night’s meeting, the council voted 3-2 to reject all new sanitation bids due to Scottsbluff’s current contract for use of the Gering landfill. The current contract ties Scottsbluff into using that site until the landfill is full and at its capacity.
Following the sanitation discussions, councilman Scott Shaver said he disagrees with the city’s Single Stream Recycling Program, which is free for all residents to use. He says he doesn’t like paying for services that he doesn’t use, and proposes that Scottsbluff eliminates that recycling program or charges residents for using it.
City Manager Nathan Johnson advised that it costs Scottsbluff $24.65 per ton to handle recycling goods. If those same recyclables went to the landfill, it would cost Scottsbluff $48.87 per ton. He says between Single Stream recycling and the recyclables sent to Cheyenne the city spends about $100,000 per year.
If Scottsbluff didn’t elect to participate in the Single Stream Recycling Program, those goods could end up in the landfill. Councilman Nathan Green argued that by filling the landfill with recyclables, it could help Scottsbluff get out of their contract with Gering faster.
Johnson said that even though there’s a cost to recycle, it’s for the betterment of the community, many residents want it, and it comes down to being a political decision.
Shaver agreed that the move was a political decision, adding, “I think recycling is a waste of money.” He added that there are national studies that recycling wastes more energy than it saves, and it doesn’t make sense to spend money on recycling if we can put those items in the landfill instead.
Mayor Raymond Gonzales said it would be worthwhile discussing recycling options at a proposed City Council retreat. He said that it’s an issue he’d like to talk about.
“I think these people have taken to these recycling efforts and they’ve taken them to heart,” said Gonzales. “I see children out there picking up stuff, and they’re getting this education in school about saving Earth for them… and it’s really not about us, it’s about them.”
Gonzales asked Johnson to make sure that recycling is on the agenda as the council retreat gets put together.