Hendersonville Public Works Department employee Alana Hibbler talks about the city’s pilot recycling program during a workshop on Tuesday at the Hendersonville Public Library.

City leaders agreed they need more time to explore the idea of implementing a citywide recycling program with more than one alderman suggesting the city hire a consultant to help with the effort.

Board of Mayor and Aldermen members voted in June to continue funding a pilot recycling program that services around 800 homes in six neighborhoods for an additional four months. That program will likely end in October before a citywide effort is implemented.

During a workshop Tuesday at the Hendersonville Public Library, Mayor Jamie Clary and Public Works Director Marshall Boyd gave an overview of the pilot program and the city’s recycling efforts thus far.

The city has spent around $120,000 on the pilot program since it was implemented in November 2017, Clary said.  In that time it has saved around $10,000 in tipping fees, he added. 

The city’s public works department recently received bids from three companies that bid on once-a-month curbside recycling, twice-a-month curbside recycling, an opt-in program and drop-off locations. Only one company bid on the opt-in program and none of the companies bid on offering drop-off locations. The lowest bid – curbside recycling once a month - would cost the city at least $1.1 million. 

Representatives of the three companies that bid on the job – Green Village Recycling, Waste-Pro and Republic Services - attended the workshop as did members of the city’s Solid Waste and Recycling Committee, nine aldermen and several citizens. 

Much of the discussion centered around an opt-in program in which residents would pay for a recycling service themselves at a discounted cost. Around three companies already provide curbside recycling to citizens who pay for it, Clary noted. 

“If we decided to do this, there is an unintended consequence, two people no longer have businesses in Hendersonville,” he said.

Mary Burns, a member of the citizen committee formed to explore the issue of recycling, interrupted.

“You fail to mention the consequence of eliminating heavy trucks on our streets,” she said. “I think that notion has been left out. We’re about roads – let’s protect them.”

Ward 4 Alderman Steve Brown also challenged a common theme expressed by Clary in meetings and in media interviews that the city can’t guarantee that materials aren’t sent to a landfill even if it does hire a company to pick up recyclables. 

Clary has said there were questions about whether or not Republic Services, the company the city contracted with to pick up materials for the pilot program from November 2017 through June 2018, was taking materials to a landfill and not to be recycled.

Brown asked Republic Services representative Jerry Burke to explain.

Burke said the company provided tickets to the city that proved the materials were not taken to a land fill. 

“Not one went to the landfill,” he said. “One hundred percent goes to recycling.”

Ward 6 Alderman Eddie Roberson suggested the city hire a consultant to help explore the issue. Several aldermen agreed they would like to have input from an independent consultant as well as see what other cities are doing. 

“What I would like to see is a list of a bunch of cities like us – what they are doing, what works – that would be helpful to me as opposed to us making a decision in a vacuum,” said Ward 4 Alderman Andy Bolt. 

Ward 3 Alderman Russ Edwards said he’d also like to hire a consultant. 

“I’m not prepared to vote on this anytime soon,” said Edwards.

Several aldermen said they’d like to see drop-off facilities considered and asked the companies present why no one bid on that option.

Jason DiStefano, owner of Green Village Recycling in Hendersonville noted that his company had a drop-off location on Center Point Road for several years, but it kept losing money. When he asked the city to help supplement the facility financially, DiStefano said he couldn’t get a commitment. 

“We have four years of experience in Hendersonville – we couldn’t shoulder the cost,” said DiStefano.

When asked by Bolt if more needs to be done to educate citizens about recycling, several members of the Solid Waste and Recycling committee said they were prepared to educate citizens once a decision is made.  

“There’s a lot of things we want to do but we’re kind of hobbled until y’all give us a form of recycling,” said Burns. “We are raring to go but we need to have recycling so we can get going.”

“Many people in Hendersonville today are people who moved here from cities that offer recycling,” said committee member Charles Lott. “They come here, and for a city the size of Hendersonville, they are shocked that we don’t have a citywide recycling program.”

Tuesday’s meeting did not involve a vote and ended with several aldermen saying they would like to explore hiring a consultant to give input on a citywide recycling program.

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