On January 16, the Emporia City Commission gave its preliminary approval to a proposal to implement city-wide curbside recycling. The next step in the process will be a public hearing sometime in March or April; if the proposal is approved again at that meeting, the city could begin curbside recycling city-wide as soon as October of 2014.
This proposal has already enjoyed popular public support in the Commission's meetings, but a few people have raised concerns about the costs and benefits of recycling to the community. As Emporia's #1 curbside recycling service for the past 5 years, The Green Door has the most to lose from the city taking over the work we do, so I am writing to say why we feel the city should implement curbside recycling. Perhaps if we show why we support it, others who are undecided or opposed will support it as well.
First of all, cities throughout our region are implementing curbside recycling, including Lebo, Hutchinson, Topeka, and Manhattan. As a result, automated sorting facilities are being built near Emporia, which means Emporia can ship recyclables to them at lower cost than ever before -- potentially even at a profit. Meanwhile, the cost of shipping the same materials to a landfill is increasing each year as landfills fill up. Sending our recyclables to where costs are falling rather than where costs are rising makes sound financial sense. We can all expect our garbage fees to go up if the city doesn't do this.
Second, because other cities are implementing curbside recycling service, people who move to Emporia expect us to have curbside recycling. Many of them become Green Door customers, but not everyone can afford our rates. Our rates are relatively high because we have to manually sort everything. We currently serve less than 1% of the population; if we really pushed we might be able to serve 2%, but the city could serve 100% of residential customers at a much lower cost per customer due to the automated sorting that is only possible at a much larger scale than a small company like Green Door can handle. Offering this service would make Emporia a more attractive place for new residents and bring the costs down for everyone.
Green Door Recycling was founded 5 years ago to promote curbside recycling in Emporia, not necessarily to provide it. We feel we have demonstrated the value of this service to the city, and NRAB has demonstrated the feasibility of providing it city-wide. We are convinced that city-wide recycling would be a win-win for everyone involved, however it means The Green Door would lose most of our customer base and have to invest in different equipment. Accordingly, we have asked for the city's help in transitioning, should this plan go through, and the current proposal includes some funding to help us stay in business and continue to supplement the city's recycling service. This funding is sure to be controversial, but we feel it is reasonable accommodation after all the help we have provided to the city in getting to this point.
I hope that you will join us in voicing your support to the City Commission before they meet in March or April.
Ben Stallings, co-owner
The Green Door Kansas