On the state of waste in Midvale
Mar 31, 2020 10:25AM
By Erin Dixon
Public education director at Trans-Jordan Landfill stands on trash that could have been recycled but was contaminated with other garbage, which means it wasn’t sorted correctly by residents. (Photo courtesy Lesha Earl)
By Erin Dixon | [email protected]
Hauling waste is expensive. The expense is only going to grow.
Midvale City Council recently discussed options for the future of waste collection in the city. Should they switch out bulk waste pickup with dumpsters? Should they discontinue recycling? What makes the most sense for Midvale?
Glenn Kennedy, Public Works director for the city, told the council that no matter what option they chose, “I don’t think we’ll eliminate any fee increase, there will still be some.”
Why is Midvale raising rates?
“What we took into consideration is Trans-Jordan [Landfill] is going to raise their tipping fee rates next [fiscal] year and for the foreseeable future, so that figured in, and also our contract with Ace every year goes up based on western CPI (Consumer Price Index) and we need to keep up with that,” Kennedy said.
Bulk waste pickup was the hottest topic for the evening. The options were to:
● Continue the program of monthly bulk waste pickup (increased rate of $1.94 per month for every resident)
● Discontinue any type of bulk waste pickup but still allow residents to rent a dumpster for $200 (increased $1.29 per month)
● Begin a dumpster program where a dumpster would be dropped off in each neighborhood for a set period of time to collect large waste (increased $2.58 per month)
The council was hesitant on all the options. If the city continued waste pickup with no changes, Councilmember Paul Glover said, “the way we do it now it makes Midvale look like trash.”
Trash on curbs means that some of the waste makes it to a storm drain. Contaminating storm drains is against city code.
City Attorney Lisa Garner said, “We are in violation (of our own storm water permit) when we have that in the storm drain.”
However, the council also did not want to take away a bulk pickup from the residents. To rent a dumpster from the city is $200, and members thought this was too steep a price to make it the only option.
“When we changed from the twice a year and we went to every month, the rates increased. Now we’d be looking at taking that away. So we’re looking at, ‘Well, you’re rates going up but we’re taking away bulky waste.’ It’s going to take a lot of education,” Councilmember Quinn Sperry said.
No one was in favor of the last option that was also the most expensive.
Councilmember Dustin Gettel said, “I don't know how any of us are going to vote for that. It’s too much too quickly.”
The conversation turned to the rapidly changing world of recycling.
With rising costs for recycling, and low demand from China for recyclable goods, recycling programs are no longer worth what they used to be. Getting rid of recycling was suggested as a way to offset the rising cost of waste collection.
“You’re getting absolutely, how do I put it, hosed on recycling. You’re paying $50 a ton for recycling,” said Kane Loader, the city manager.
In comparison, dumping waste at the landfill is $16 a ton. Many times the recycling facilities end up taking the recycling loads to the landfill, which increases costs.
“What we’re finding is the cans are still full but they’re all contaminated,” Loader said.
Glover expressed an unpopular but money-wise opinion: “I know it’s going to be a problem but if we explain what’s really happening, and then once recycling picks back up we go back into it when they can actually recycle the stuff. It’s ridiculous. It’s not good for the environment and it’s costing us a fortune.”
Ultimately no decision was made, and the conversation will continue in future council meetings.
Assistant City Manager Matt Dahl concluded that whatever the council chose to do, that communication to residents was the most important thing.
“Any situation where we add rules, it’s just going to add cost and not be very successful. I think the most successful program we’re going to have is the one with the easiest rules and if we can couple that with the best savings, that’s probably the route that’s going to be the best.”