Curbside trash talk

Lazaro Aleman
ECB Publishing, Inc.

Door-to-door garbage pickup may be coming to Jefferson County residents in the not-too-distant future; then again, the topic is one that county officials have discussed previously with nothing coming of it.
This time, however, officials say they are seriously contemplating the possibility.
The issue came up at a recent budget workshop of the Jefferson County Commission relative to the Solid Waste Department, which County Coordinator Parrish Barwick described as “struggling financially,” adding that its director was seriously considering curbside garbage pickup as an option.
“We're about five to six years behind the curve,” Barwick said. “Beth (Solid Waste Director Beth Letchworth) is eager to look at curbside pickup.”
Barwick offered that the county might be able to provide the curbside pickup service with the department’s current budget. The department is largely funded by the annual landfill assessment that county residents pay, along with grants and fees that it charges for some of its trash pickup services.
“We're gathering information on the curbside service,” Barwick said. “Next time that you look at the budget, you'll have the information.”
He said that the contract with whatever company was ultimately selected for the service could be structured at “a la carte.” Meaning that the board could choose what services it wanted included in the contract, such as the pickup of big items, recyclables and what are called white goods – stoves, refrigerators and like appliances. It was also possible, Barwick said, that the commission would decide to keep a limited drop-off point at the closed landfill site on Tyson Road.
Barwick asserted that curbside service would eliminate the problematic trash and recycling centers at various locations around the county. Which elimination, he said, would solve the problem of “the bandits that run businesses out of other counties and come here to dump tires, shingles and house debris.”
Barwick said trash from other counties could well represent 30 to 35 percent of the tonnage that the Solid Waste Department currently carried to the regional landfill for disposal at $42 per ton, costing this county inordinately.
As for the recycling effort, Barwick called it a losing proposition.
“We're bringing in less than $20,000 annually and spending $200,000 to process,” Barwick said. “It's a brutal lose-lose proposition. Recycling is an issue that is hurting nationwide.”
He said that only a small percentage of the local population practiced recycling, accounting for about 300 tons annually.
The commission instructed Barwick to continue exploring the curbside pickup option and report the findings to the board at a later meeting.