Forest Park promotes recycling with new contract

The Forest Park City Council is expected to vote April 16 to accept a solid waste disposal contract with an emphasis on recycling and reducing the amount of garbage taking up space in local landfills.

The council met in a special work session Tuesday night to discuss proposals for solid waste pick up throughout the city. Public Works Director Mike Gippert told Council that Waste Management, the company picking up trash for residents, presented the lowest bid.

“Waste Management presented the best proposal as far as cost and service,” said Gippert. “One reason why they were the cheapest of the four proposals is they are already here, their infrastructure is already in place.”

City Manager John Parker reserved the right to release the actual bid amount until the council votes whether to accept it.

Forest Park residents pay for twice weekly trash pick up. Under the new contract, household garbage will be picked up once a week and recyclables will be picked up during the second trip. Money made from recycling those items goes right back to the city.

“Waste Management is willing to give 100 percent back to the city,” said Gippert. “The others would give back 25 to 75 percent. So it will be a great benefit to residents if we recycle as much as possible.”

City Attorney Robert Mack agreed.

“The more recycling we get, the more it enhances our revenue,” he said.

Parker said he believes half of what residents toss in the trash can be recycled but is unsure how many people will actually take the time to sort through what they have. Gippert said the figure is closer to 75 percent.

“There’s not a whole lot you can’t recycle,” he said. “If people would recycle, they could reduce about 75 percent of what they throw away.”

Councilwoman Linda Lord pointed out that with garbage collection being reduced to once a week, residents are going to need to lighten their trash load.

Gippert said Waste Management has agreed to put out a two-page newsletter this month with information in English and Spanish on the new pick-up process. The new carts could be rolled out in mid-May.

In addition to the newsletter, Gippert said schools will be targeted for educating students about recycling.

“If we teach the school children, maybe they can shame Mom and Dad into recycling,” he said.

The contract includes five solar-powered trash compactors.

“They don’t have to be emptied as often and they hook to the Internet and send in a signal when they are full,” said Gippert. “We planned to put them in Starr Park but we can put them anywhere we need them.”

Lake City has one of the compactors in its new park, which will open in a few months, he said.

Another benefit to residents who need to clean out a room or do light remodeling is the availability of a “bagster” system. Gippert said the 4 feet by 8 feet bag holds 3500 pounds of waste and is a cheaper alternative to renting a roll-off.

“The bagsters are $29.95 to buy and $95 to dispose of,” he said. “A roll-off can cost about $300.”

Residents put the waste on top of the bagster and when it is full, Waste Management workers come back and pick up the whole container.

At the end of the two-year contract, the city will have several options on how to proceed. Parker said the council can vote to extend the contract twice in one-year increments, go with another company or get the city back into the business of collecting garbage. Either way, Parker said this is a great time for this program.

“This is an excellent opportunity to have a program like this,” he said. “We have a recycling part and a garbage part. It’s up to education now.”