Recycling the Recycling Plan
Santa Fe County will draft ordinance that requires current haulers to offer recycling pickup in three distirctsLocal NewsSaturday, August 29, 2015
The nearly half-dozen trash haulers who serve three districts in unincorporated areas of Santa Fe County would be required to provide recycling services under a new proposal that aims to increase the rate of diversion from the landfill while still keeping the interests of county residents in mind.
The proposed ordinance, which was outlined last week by county solid waste management officials, is a compromise to an earlier idea that would have had the county directly intervening to award exclusive contracts to haulers who made the lowest bids to the county for refuse and recycling pickup.
That plan met fierce opposition this summer from hundreds of residents who testified at community meetings that they happened to like their trash haulers, especially the rates, and the last thing they wanted was the county to step in, change the lineup and increase the price of pickup.
A series of community meetings are planned in the next two months to see how residents react to the latest proposal, which covers 15,000 households that stretch as far south as Edgewood, as far north as Tesuque and as far east as Lamy.
“The moral to the story is that we are listening to the people and we’re trying to work with them. We're hoping they'll like this and will be onboard with it,” Craig O’Hare, an energy programs specialist with the county, tells SFR on Saturday. “This approach to this ordinance is just as aggressive as the last one, at least in terms of getting more people to recycle. And that’s our objective.”
Under the proposal, the trash haulers would have to pull a permit from the county and tally by weight the recyclables they collect, reporting it to the county on either a monthly or quarterly basis, something that hasn't been worked out yet, O’Hare says.
There might not be a permit fee, O'Hare says, but if there is one, he says says it will be minimal because the overall objective is to monitor the volume of recycling in the county.
Right now, county rules say residents who throw their recyclables in with the rest of the regular refuse are actually subject to fines, but such cases are rare, O'Hare says, noting the county's new goal is to divert between 25-30 percent, in keeping with the standards set by many recyclable-conscientious local governments across the country.
O’Hare, however, recognizes that such a goal will take time, and he's hoping that it all will start with provisions such as these, which requires trash haulers to accommodate residents who otherwise can drop off their own recyclables at the so called eight convenience centers in Santa Fe County.
"It's important to point out in all this that we're not asking that people pay for trash haulers if they don't want to," O'Hare says.
O’Hare estimates that roughly 3,000 of the 15,000 households do so in the three districts the county is targeting, and that nearly two-thirds of the people who live in the districts currently do not have do not have recycling pickup.
O’Hare says once the to-be-determined community meetings are held and the county has a sense of how the residents feel about the ordinance, it should go before the Santa Fe County Commissioners for formal adoption some time in late October or early November, eventually taking effect next year in the spring.
“That will give the haulers time to prepare for what they need,” O’Hare says.