By TERRY GROOVER
A group of Yukon residents have asked the city council to look in to the option of adding curbside recycling to the services offered by the city.
Resident Jenny Davis said Yukon is only one of five communities in Central Oklahoma with a population of more than 7,000 that doesn’t offer recycling.
Many of those that do offer the service do so as a part of their normal utility bill. Others offer it for an added cost, according to information provided by Davis.
“We would like to propose a low-cost plan to simply guage interest in a curbside recycling program for Yukon residents,” Davis said. “We know that this needs to specifically target customers who are served by the city of Yukon’s utility department.”
Unlike many of the cities in Davis’s report, Yukon does not contract its sanitation services to an outside company.
Yukon has its own trucks.
There are approximately 8,500 residential customers in Yukon.
Yukon utilizes a landfill operated by the Oklahoma Environmental Management Agency in El Reno.
Several other cities also utilize the same landfill.
Among those is Tuttle, which Davis said offers curbside recycling for its customers.
“Tuttle already has a curbside recycling program. Thus they contribute less waste to our shared landfill,” she said.
Davis also said that those who are offered the option to recycle waste usually take advantage of the option.
She said a 2016 study found that U.S. residents with a curbside cart recycle an average of 357 pounds of recyclables per year.
“If you take that average in Yukon, that equals more than 3 million pounds or 1,500 tons of trash that would not be placed into our landfill,” she said.
The city currently offers recycling at its drop-off location. However, oftentimes the bins are full, especially after weekends, Davis said.
Davis suggested that the city could considered offering its own program or possibly contract with an outside provider.
“I think we could eliminate the current city of Yukon dropoff facility. What we would need to do is weigh the cost of handling the recyclables in-house, providing staff and equipment, including trucks and bins, or contracting the recycling program to outside contractor,” she said.
Davis also suggested that a phased program might be the best option in which the city initially contracts the program and then slowly implements its own.
She also suggested the recycling program might be an “opt-in” service, in which residents who wanted to participate would sign up to do so.
Davis also pointed out that grants are available to help cities who are starting a recycling program.
She also said that while she is aware the idea of a recycling program may not become a reality this year, her goal is to start the conversation.
Because Davis’s comments came during the visitors’ section of Tuesday’s meeting, the council could not discuss her request. However, City Manager Jim Crosby said the city will look at her proposal.
“We have considered it. This has been asked before,” Crosby said.
However, the cost of operating the program is high and would not offset by the money the city gets in return from the sale of recyclables.
Crosby said the city once received up to $100 per ton for cardboard. Today, it receives $5.
“I believe in recycling, but there is no money in it. It doesn’t pay for itself,” he said.
In addition, many cities, including Oklahoma City, no longer sort their recycling. Instead, they use large polycarts.
Much of that material ends up in the landfill, Crosby said.
“I will look closely at her proposal. Hopefully, we can discuss various options and what we can do,” he said.
The biggest issue, he said, is that recycling is expensive, especially starting up a program.
That would mean a likely increase in the city’s utility bills.
That is something the council would need to approve or to place before the city’s voters.
According to Davis’s proposal, some cities offer the service as part of their sanitation fees.
For example, Mustang and El Reno both charge monthly fees. Mustang charges $5.50 per month, while El Reno charges $8.50.
In both cities, the program is voluntary.
In Oklahoma City, as well as Midwest City and Choctaw, recycling is part of the utility bill.