IrondaleToday: City wide recycling starts June 4. It seems you are the only councilor to continue the work of the last council on recycling. Why has it taken so long to implement the process when work was initially started in 2011?
Councilmember Sanderson: I can speak only for myself, but I strongly believed that the recycling test started by the previous Council should be expanded to cover the entire City. This is the only way to adequately determine our participation level and whether the program will cost us money or save us money. Further, city wide curbside recycling is a commitment I had made to my constituents and I needed to do everything possible to make it happen.
IrondaleToday: There was almost no community outreach prior to the expansion of city wide curbside recycling. Why was the roll out chosen to be handled this way and what other means of publicizing it were discussed?
Councilmember Sanderson: I think that the principal problem with regard to PR is that the Public Works Department changed directors during the last month. A second problem is the lack of a current regularly updated website. This problem should be rectified during the month of June. I would also note that the acting director of Public Works, Joe Cummings, did prepare a letter explaining the recycling program and had a copy taped to the inside of each recycling bin distributed. Further, I announced the program at two City Council meetings, as well as my Emailed newsletter, “Councilman’s Comments”, and my District 3 Facebook page. It was also announced on the District 4 Facebook page.
IrondaleToday: Will everyone keep their same two day garbage pick-up?
Councilmember Sanderson: Yes.
IrondaleToday: Statistics show that 75% of what we send to landfills can be recycled. This being true do you see the city moving to a one day a week garbage pick-up?
Councilmember Sanderson: This is a difficult question. My original attempt to get city wide curbside recycling was a revenue neutral ordinance, which would have dropped garbage pickup on one day and substituted recycling. This attempt in January of this year was met with approval by some and opposition from others that insisted that they used and needed twice weekly garbage pickup. The Council majority requested I go back to the drawing board and try to devise a plan that would include twice weekly garbage pickup and curbside recycling. With help from former Public Works Director, Delan Davis, Alabama Environmental Council Recycling Director, Alan Gurganus, City Clerk, James Stewart, and Mayor Tommy Joe Alexander, I was able to do so. I personally would be fine with one day per week garbage pickup, as we rarely even put out garbage on the second pickup day each week. However, I know that there are many who want twice weekly garbage service, so I do not know if service will ever be cut to one day.
IrondaleToday: Will there still be a recycling drop off at Irondale Public Works?
Councilmember Sanderson: I would hope so, but I have not been a part of any discussions concerning this matter. Joe Cummings or Mayor Alexander would be the person making the decision.
IrondaleToday: Many households will produce more recyclables than the new containers will hold. If a citizen uses a purchased additional recycling containers or uses blue bags will these also be picked up?
Councilmember Sanderson: It is my understanding that any other container which has recycled items only and is placed next to the recycling bin will be picked up. I would suggest that if one of your garbage pickup days is Wednesday, you might want to place garbage at one side of your yard and recycling on the other side to avoid confusion. It is also my understanding that no more blue bags will be ordered after the current stock is depleted, as the blue bags are an additional expense to the City.
IrondaleToday: How much money is the city receiving per ton at the Materials Recovery Facility?
Councilmember Sanderson: Currently, only $.25 per ton,
IrondaleToday: How much does it cost the city per ton to dump garbage in the landfill?
Councilmember Sanderson: Currently $13.00 per ton.
IrondaleToday: What roll did the Alabama Environmental Council Play in getting the grant for the recycling bins?
Councilmember Sanderson: The Alabama Environmental Council and especially it’s Recycling Director Alan Gurganus (who is an Irondale resident), handled everything concerning this grant. They wrote the grant, they followed up, and they won it’s approval. The City received 500 bins at a cost of $7.00 per unit for a total savings of $35,000 with no matching funds required.
IrondaleToday: Please talk about this program and any other issues you want Irondale to be aware of.
Councilmember Sanderson: I would like to note that this program is currently an administrative program agreed to by the mayor. The program is not required by ordinance and no ordinances were changed or amended to create the program. Curbside city wide recycling is to remain in effect through September 30, 2015. If the participation in the program by that date does indicate that the residents of Irondale want the program, it may be dropped. Recycling programs are generally considered successful with at least 30% participation. I would be happy to answer any questions and invite those who have them to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.