Many Killeen residents support the city’s proposed single-stream recycling program; however, some don’t want it to be mandatory or bring higher fees.
The city is migrating from its voluntary curb-sorted recycling program to a mandatory citywide single-stream program where residents put all their recyclable materials into one bin that’s sorted at a facility.
Luke French said while he’s in favor of recycling, he’s “not a fan of shoving things down people’s throats.”
The new program would increase the number of materials accepted for recycling — mixed paper, plastics No. 1 through No. 7, aseptic containers, steel, aluminum and tin cans. The curb-sorted program is limited to mixed paper, No. 1 and No. 2 plastics, aluminum and tin cans, and glass bottles and jars.
With capital outlay costs for the program estimated at $4.8 million with an annual recurring cost of more than $675,000, the switch will likely come at a higher cost to residents.
The city’s proposal for the new program includes switching from its current “pay-as-you-throw” system where residents’ bills depend on the size of their garbage cans to a citywide base fee.
Residents who currently use the city’s curb-sorted recycling program pay $2.48 a month for a 22-gallon recycling container. Residents with a 96-gallon trash can pay $17.50 per month. The cost of a 64-gallon can is $15.60 per month and 32-gallon cans are $14.38 per month.
Under the proposed system, all residents would have a 96-gallon recycling cart and a 96-gallon garbage can and be charged $20.89 a month. But that fee is subject to change following a rate study the city will conduct once the council endorses a contractor for the single-stream recycling program.
The council is evaluating proposals from Balcones Resources, Centex Metals, WILCO Recycling and Texas Disposal Systems.
Lauren Evans said she believes if there is going to be a fee for recycling, the program shouldn’t be mandatory.
“I don’t understand why it’s an extra fee since the city makes money off of recycled materials,” she said.
Evans said if the program becomes mandatory and fees increase, she hopes to see collected funds be used for things like improving local parks.
In their proposals to the city, Balcones projects Killeen will make $122,400 a year from recycling; Centex estimates $805,500, factoring in its leasing of the city’s transfer station; Texas Disposal Systems, would net $35,228; and WILCO, $72,000. City staff recommended the council endorse the Balcones proposal.
Pamela Norwood said she would like to recycle but can’t absorb a fee increase.
“I don’t know why we have to pay more money if the city is going to make money from the recycled materials,” she said. “I understand we have to cover the initial cost of bins and extra personnel, but I think that after the initial cost is covered and the city starts profiting from it, our bills should reflect a savings adjustment.”
Jennifer Hetzel and Suzy Williams are in full support of the initiative.
“I think mandatory recycling is an excellent idea,” Hetzel said. “Our landfills are limited and we cannot continue to produce waste at the current rate forever without running out of places to put it.”
Hetzel said she believes a “few dollars a month are definitely worth the benefits.”
Williams said she pays for recycling through the city’s curb-sorted system because “it’s the right thing to do.”
“It’s a shame it has to be made mandatory for everyone to participate,” she said. “The city makes money by selling the recyclable materials and gives residents incentives from that.”
According to city officials, a rate study and master plan will be conducted prior to moving forward with the program. The rate study is estimated to cost about $130,000.