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Public Works director: Recycling recommendations would save time, money

By Katherine Mozzone, KTVM Reporter, kmozzone@ktvm.com
Published On: Jun 21 2013 07:38:03 PM MDT
Updated On: Jun 21 2013 09:45:42 PM MDT
BOZEMAN, Mont. -

Changes that would make recycling cheaper and easier could be coming to Bozeman. We told you about the Bozeman Department of Public Works' study to take a look at the current system back in December. Now, the results are in. NBC Montana took a look at the current system and recommendations that could save you money.

Public Works Director Craig Woolard skims through the pages of a recent recycling study. He says they serve 1,200 Bozeman residents and says we have a proactive community where folks like to recycle but in order to expand, changes are in order.

"The folks that we've talked to on this suggested if we provide a bigger bin and more convenient service them people will recycle more," says Woolard.

NBC Montana met up with Solid Waste Superintendent Kevin Handelin to see how the current curbside system works. Customers get a 20-gallon bin that's collected once a week with a special truck.

The new single-stream system would offer customers a 95-gallon bin collected every two weeks with the same truck they use to pick up household trash. Plus, residents with higher volume recyclables wouldn't have to sort their own items and neither would workers.

"It's a better service, more convenient for the homeowner, allows more efficient operations and we think we can provide that service for less than we're charging now," explains Woolard.

Under the current system, workers must manually sort cardboard, paper, cans and plastic for up to 400 customers in a day. The new system would allow solid waste workers to complete their entire route without leaving the cab of their truck.

"It will be baled and packaged locally and then shipped to a regional municipal recycling facility where there's automated equipment that sorts it," Woolard tells us.

Public works employee JD Bassett showed us the difference between the two systems. He worked in residential recycling for close to two and a half years. That's a record for the position with the highest turnover.

"Constantly on the move sorting, more sorting and more sorting," says Bassett. He says the new system would cut workers' time in half.

"It's going to take them 10, 15 seconds with (automated sorting), a minute or longer with (manual sorting), just sorting one stop so, there's a lot of time right there," explains Bassett.

Bassett says added time isn't the benefit to the new system. He says keeping workers out of the weather and safety are also advantages.

"Every once in a while, you have people that are in a hurry. They can see the flashing lights but they don't care. They'll just keep on going as fast as they were," says Bassett.

They're just some of the reasons why folks like Bassett and Woolard hope city commissioners listen to recommendations and implement the single stream system.

If the city commission signs off on the recommendations, the new system could take effect late summer to early autumn.