Morenci's curbside brush pickup is about to end and the recycling center is also in its final days. The recycling center is scheduled to close Saturday, June 29. Both changes were approved by city council in an effort to reach a balanced budget for the next fiscal year.
“People think there's such a large income from recyclables,” said Morenci administrator/city clerk Renée Schroeder at the June 10 council meeting, but that's no longer the case. The materials Morenci sold through the recycling center never came close to paying for the cost of the service.
"Is it meant to be a money-making venture?" asked audience member Colleen Leddy. She noted that most services provided by the city don't pay for themselves.
"It's hard to justify a duplication of services when we’re making cutbacks in every department," answered mayor Keith Pennington.
Curbside collection of recyclables began in August 2012 for city residents, offered at no extra cost by Modern Waste Systems, the city's current trash collector.
Modern's curbside collection nearly matches the recycling center service—but only clear glass is collected and cardboard must be cut to fit into a plastic bag—and expands the amount of plastics to include #1 through #7. (See an advertisement in this week's Observer for details of Modern's services.)
Recyclable material must be placed in clear plastic bags. The bags are collected along with the trash and tossed into the garbage truck for separation at a facility in Napoleon, Mich.
Seeing trash and recyclables placed together into the trash truck has made several residents skeptical of Modern's recycling claims, so a few city representatives visited the separation facility.
"I can assure you that it's a valid and viable program," Pennington said.
The clear plastic bags make the recyclables easy to spot, and even though a bag may be torn when trash is compacted in the truck, the materials tend to remain in the same area.
Workers at the facility actually end up pulling out much more than what is placed in the clear bags, said councilor Greg Braun who visited the site. If recyclable materials are spotted as trash moves along a conveyor system, those items are also pulled aside. The recyclables are taken to a plant near Ann Arbor where the items are separated into paper, plastic, metal, etc.
The company offers curbside service at no charge, with the aim of saving money by paying less for landfill space.
Closure of Morenci's recycling center on Baker Street will effect township residents who don't have a contract with Modern Waste, but the company does serve rural customers, said Schroeder. She pays $16 a month for trash collection and that includes removal of recyclables.