FREED from the stigma of trash toter fees, the concept of a curbside recycling program has made a quantum leap forward during the past few months.
Although there were calls to incorporate curbside recycling into the overall trash pickup system when the toter fees were adopted, the idea never got serious traction and was tabled in the midst of the furor over whether residents were being double-billed for a system many had come to think of as free.
It, of course, was never free as it had previously been paid for through property taxes.
A curbside recycling program finally got into the serious evaluation phase shortly after the toter fees were scrapped by the Columbus City Council earlier this year.
A committee headed by council member Frank Miller has been studying the issue for several months.
Its findings indicate a citywide curbside recycling program not only is feasible but could be fairly inexpensive.
This particular initiative is blessed with the premise that it is being offered as a service to which residents had not had previous access.
In other words, they would be paying for something new.
The study also has been fruitful in that it has given the city some important information that could be helpful in determining a proper course of action.
For instance, Miller and other members of the committee have suggested that the most practical approach would be to start with a contractor-operated service for the collection and processing of recyclable items before the city would take on all or some of the responsibilities.
The benefit to this approach is that it would give city officials time to closely evaluate such a process and determine whether it would be worth a substantial start-up investment to eventually take over the operation.
Contracting with an outside company initially would save the city between $1.3 million and $2.2 million in start-up costs, although the operational costs would run between $250,000 and $350,000 a year.
A contractor-operated service for the city has been estimated to cost between $1.54 and $2.08 per month per resident, a minuscule amount compared to the up to $15 a month residents had been paying on their utility bills for the toter service.
Curbside recycling is still only in the proposal phase.
Full approval must come from the City Council.
It is an approval that should be granted. Columbus, a city with a reputation for an outstanding quality of life standard, has fallen behind other communities that have adopted variations of curbside recycling programs.
The issue has certainly received public attention and now the community is armed with information that a program is both feasible and affordable.
Those should be ample reasons to add this to the services the city provides to its residents.
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