Consultants: City should start recycling

Plan calls for a curbside program to help reduce Juneau's garbage stream

Posted: Thursday, November 29, 2007

What should Juneau do with 24,000 tons of garbage produced in 13,000 homes and 550 local businesses? Build a curbside recycling program or build another disposal system?

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"You can't have both," said Richard Hertzberg, consultant with WIH Resource Group.

His recommendation to the Juneau Assembly tonight will be that the city enter the local solid waste and recycling business over a five-year period.

The draft plan calls for the city to enter a public-private partnership to handle Juneau's garbage stream and build a curbside recycling program to reduce it.

During a public comment forum at Centennial Hall on Wednesday night, people reacted to the idea of the city getting into the solid waste business.

"The community suffers from Mount Garbage horror," Juneau resident Bill Leighty said. He wanted to know why an incinerator is not being recommended to the Assembly.

The consultants see no reason to change the city's use of the landfill for waste, and say it's the cheapest per-ton disposal method. They recommend recycling.

"We don't see the disposal part of your system as a problem," Hertzberg said. "As far as we're concerned, and the state is concerned, the landfill is in compliance and has 30 years of life left."

Bell said no one wanted to build an incinerator, and they made continually less sense in today's world.

"Waste Management is not interested," Maria Gladziszewski, a city employee, said.

The city's interest in Hertzberg and Bell's solutions stems from complaints about the growing landfill and a March survey that said curbside recycling is high on people's wish list. Behind affordable housing, curbside recycling ranked as the most important change Juneau residents wanted to see.

The consultants also found the city not ready to enter the solid waste business. Hertzberg said it would take five years at least. The written report said, "Under present circumstances the (city) has only marginal control and leverage in the solid waste system, and this is not consistent with having extensive public policy expectations priorities and objectives for solid waste."

To enter the garbage business, consultants say, in the next six months the city should gain more control and contractual oversight by taking over Arrow Refuse's state waste permit. Then it should create a three-way 10-year contract between Waste Management Arrow Refuse and the city.

"Who pays for the recycling center?" asked Richard Stokes, a Juneau resident.

Bell recommended letting Waste Management build it.

"But the city could do it," he said.

The consultants said the city should find 10 acres of industrial land to create a recycling center with a 10,000 square-foot building to store and bail recyclables for shipment to Seattle.

"The current recycling center is way too small," Hertzberg said.

Bell and Hertzberg will present their draft plan to the Assembly tonight at 5 p.m.

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