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City again extends recycling pilot

Sinclaire Sparkman • Updated Dec 29, 2017 at 8:00 AM

The Lebanon City Council will again evaluate the city’s recycling program next month, but until then, pickups will continue for customers.

The Lebanon sanitation department picked up the single-stream recycling service after local business Green Monster decided to close doors in May 2016. 

With around 140 customers left wondering where to put their paper, cardboard, plastic and metal items, the Lebanon City Council passed a resolution to create a 90-day pilot for the recycling program. 

“If we don’t get enough people signed up, it may not last long, and it’s something we really need,” Ward 6 Councilor Rick Bell said at the time. He also praised the work of Public Works director Jeff Baines and his staff for their effort in raising awareness about the program.

Green Monster left its 64-gallon carts for the city to use, and sanitation workers make rounds every other Monday to pick up recyclables for delivery to the Waste Management recycling warehouse in Nashville. For a time, the program operated at a loss to the city due to the cost of paying workers overtime and vehicle expenses. Though there can be payout with some recyclables, not all bring in money.

A second resolution was passed in November 2016 to give the Public Works recycling team a bit more time to make the program viable and with a steadily growing number of customers, the program neared a break-even point. 

“The recycling program is a very good program,” Lebanon Mayor Bernie Ash said in January. “We would love for it to pick up for the people, but it has to make sense for us to do it.”

The pilot program changed pickup days in January from every Monday to every other Monday to give the program some room to grow. Stormwater coordinator Liana Dranes, GIS manager R.T. Baldwin and Baines worked for months to get the word out to the community about the program through school programs, email blasts and more.

By the end of 2017, workers at the city’s sanitation department regularly emptied bins from 425 recycling customers, making the program more attractive to city leaders. 

“One thing we have to do is be more aggressive and challenge folks to think green, think clean and get involved,” Baines said last year, also citing that the landfill currently used by the city, located near Murfreesboro, only has about eight years before it fills to capacity. 

When citizens sign up for the recycling program, they are given a 64-gallon cart with pickups every two weeks for $15 a month added to their utility bill and a one-time $25 start-up fee. Since the service is single-stream mixed recycling, there is no sorting required by customers. Comparable single-stream recycling services in Nashville can cost more than twice as much for a monthly pickup when done by a private company.

Any resident within the city limits of Lebanon is eligible for participation in the recycling pilot program. The Public Works recycling team will go before the Lebanon City Council in January to give an update on how the program is doing.

Those signed up for the single-stream recycling pickup can expect cans emptied Jan. 8 and Jan. 22. Bins should be placed on the curb by 7 a.m. and removed by 7 p.m.

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