After months of discussion, including a town hall meeting last month, Enterprise City Council has decided to cease curbside pick-up of recycling, effective October 1.
Per a 2009 agreement that is currently still in place, Enterprise sends all recycling to Coffee County and also pays for the cost of collection while receiving no revenue.
It costs the city over $400,000 per year.
“My thoughts on it after taking everything in … we need to cease the curbside recycling,” District 5 Councilmember Turner Townsend said at Tuesday’s work session.
Townsend said he believed the city should start a plan to build a convenience center using grant money from the Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM).
Enterprise Public Works Director Michael Walters said ADEM awards up to $350,000 for equipment, which would include a convenience center.
The issue with an ADEM grant is the timeline, and the lack of a guarantee of acceptance.
Walters said he believed applications for a grant could start in March of the next fiscal year and they are awarded around June or July.
Enterprise has never been a recipient of an ADEM grant and has never asked for one, which could be a good thing, according to Walters.
“If you decide to do that then that is a good thing because we would be new to the program,” he said.
District 1 Councilmember Sonya Rich asked about the likelihood of being awarded grant money.
“I’m not going to say it’s a guarantee, but one thing that we do have going into it is that we’ve never asked for that ADEM money for a recycling grant,” Walters said. “So I’m going to say that that’s a plus.”
Townsend said: “The lady that we talked to it sounded like if we do a good proposal, put it together and show the need … there’s money available.”
The issue, Walters said, is the time period between killing curbside recycling on October 1 and applying for grants in March.
“There would be kind of a holdover period,” he said. “We could not get any money right now for that. We would have to apply for that.”
Townsend said he had discussions with Coffee County about that issue, and said he felt the county would be willing to assist Enterprise.
“The county sounds like they would be very willing to help us through a transition period to pick up the product, get it to a recycling center,” he said. “That would give us time to apply for the grant money and get a convenience center built.”
Walters said if the council decided to go a convenience center “we could make something happen between now and then.”
“We’d have to still have a few guys oversee some of this and to do some of the collection to make sure that it does not become unsightly,” he said. “Not collection as far as going to the house, but collection as far as Public Works and making sure that we can process it and do what we can do. So, if that’s decided we can make that happen. I feel very confident in that.”
Ending the program will cause no job loss, as all employees would be rolled over into other departments.
Townsend said October 1 – the first day of the new fiscal year – will begin “phase one” of ending the program.
The overall goal, according to the council, is to remove the county from responsibility of Enterprise recyclables, which the convenience center would apparently help with.
According to Walters, Enterprise could bale and sale materials themselves to keep revenue. Right now, Coffee County brings in about $44,000 a year selling recyclables.
That money would come back to Enterprise.
“We’re going to be getting the county out of it,” Townsend said. “The county’s going to go away. They’re just going to help us in the transition.”
District 4 Councilmember Al Miller asked what would be done with plastic.
Townsend and District 2 Councilmember Eugene Goolsby agreed that unless there is a change in the market, it will have to be thrown in the landfill.
As far as a convenience center, temporary or otherwise, Walters said Public Works would likely be the location as it is a central location.
Miller said he had concerns with the sorting of recyclables such as cans and aluminum.
“Who’s going to go in and divide the aluminum and plastics?” he said.
Townsend said it would be the consumers that bring the recyclables to the location.
Miller said there would have to be some sort of education for residents who to sort properly. Townsend agreed there should be some sort of professional education campaign.
“I think that has been a recurring theme at least when I’ve been talking to citizens,” he said.
Also, bins will be clearly marked to clearly separate recyclables such as cardboard and aluminum.