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Gering recycling program a success
October 12, 2012 Jerry Purvis   

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Launched on April 1, 2012, Gering’s single-stream recycling program is paying for itself and future growth appears likely.

Rick Hurt, Gering’s director of environmental services, said single stream means residents no longer have to sort their recyclable materials – just collect them in the blue, specially designated recycle bins for pickup.

The program will collect most recyclables, excluding glass, Styrofoam and plastic bags. Acceptable materials include junk mail, office and school paper, aluminum foil and trays, cardboard, food boxes, newspapers, brown paper bags, steel and aluminum cans, plastic bottles and containers, and phone books and catalogs.
Recyclables are baled and when a trailer has been filled, it’s picked up by Waste Management from Denver.

Recycling is still a pilot program between Gering and Waste Management. Two trailer loads have been transported to Denver and so far, the recyclable materials are paying for the transportation costs.

“We started out with 100 blue recycling carts,” Hurt said. “We’re now expanding the pilot program by adding another 484.”

He added the first 100 carts went out right away after the program was announced as residents wanted to recycle. Additional requests were put on a waiting list until more carts could be purchased.

About 200 carts are left for people to request.

Initially, recyclables were picked up on the second and fourth Thursday of the month. With the program expansion, collection will occur twice a month. With Q St. as a dividing line, residences on the north and south sides will have recyclables picked up on alternating weeks.

“We now have recyclables coming in every week, so it’s more efficient for us,” Hurt said. “We can expand even more if commercial customers want to join the program, as we can offer them regular pickup.”

An analysis report from Waste Management showed that Gering recycles a large amount of newsprint. Cardboard and mixed paper also accounted for much of the material.

“Waste Management told us they’d be willing to continue the pilot program,” Hurt said. “We haven’t entered into a long-term agreement yet, but hopefully we will someday.”

With 100 carts for collection, two trailer loads have been shipped to Denver so far. Hurt said that with more carts, they should be able to fill up more trailers more often. “We hope that soon, Waste Management will just leave a trailer here and swap it out when it gets filled up. Transportation is the big cost of this program.”

Residents who want to participate in the recycling program may call Environmental Services at (308) 436-7568. They need to be connected to Gering utilities, as the four dollar monthly charge for recycling is added onto the monthly utility bills.
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