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Recycling encouraged as trash pickup proposals scrapped
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As Gainesville City Council members officially rescinded plans to change residents’ trash service Tuesday, Councilman Bob Hamrick called for renewed efforts at encouraging recycling in the city limits.

Hamrick, the council’s longest serving member, asked what role Keep Hall Beautiful could play in those efforts. Hamrick’s initial comments were directed at Councilman George Wangemann, who serves as an ex-officio member on the organization’s board of directors.

Hamrick said recent discussions over proposed changes to the city’s recycling service revealed a great number of residents weren’t recycling.

“If there’s some way we can mount a campaign to get more (recycling) containers out and emphasize more recycling,” said Hamrick.
More recycling, Hamrick said, would lessen the load on the city’s solid waste employees and reduce the cost of fees the city’s residents pay to leave their trash in the landfill. Selling recyclables might also bring in revenue for the city, he said.

“If we just had some program educating the people that, hey, it’s quite simple to recycle, and if they would, it certainly would reduce the waste stream that we presently see,” Hamrick said.

For now, city officials are sticking with the twice-a-week, backdoor pickup that Gainesville residents have enjoyed for years. For a few months, at least, city officials were considering reducing that service to a once-weekly curbside pickup.

But residents were vehemently opposed to the plan, with the most vocal saying they’d be willing to pay more to maintain the twice-a-week back-door level of service.

And city officials have maintained that keeping the service will mean higher monthly rates of some $4 and $6.

City officials also considered a privatized service, which might mean a monthly increase from $2 to $14.

Residents currently pay $25.10 per month for their solid waste services.

The plan the city’s Public Works Department proposed in March was meant to keep those rates static while also encouraging recycling.

The City Council scrapped the plan officially Tuesday and will likely vote on a new plan for the city’s solid waste service next month, according to Mayor Ruth Bruner.

But city officials are back at the drawing board when it comes to encouraging recycling, and at Hamrick’s request, Wangemann says he’ll likely seek the help of the Keep Hall Beautiful board at its meeting this month.

“What is the old saying? ‘Work smarter, not harder.’ I think that’s sort of what (the next step) is,” Hamrick said. “If we could improve the current program that we have, it would reduce the waste stream, which in turn would be less work on the worker, you know? But then (reduce) the overall cost of the program.”