FRUIT HEIGHTS -- After months of debate, the city council has approved a Fruit Heights recycling program, which should be in place by the end of summer.
However, a private business is also offering a similar program.
Fruit Heights plans to move forward with the recycling plan using its current waste hauler, Robinson Waste. Residents will be given the first 60 days to opt out of the program. Depending on how many residents participate, the monthly rate of service will fall between $3.35 to $4.70. The program will not be implemented if the participation falls below 60 percent. Once the citywide recycling program is in place, the cost for a second garbage can will be increased to $9.45 a month.
City council members spent several meetings debating whether a mandated recycling program by the city was appropriate. Currently residents can participate with Mountain West Curbside Recycling, which has been operating a private recycling business in the city since 2004.
"The thing that was the driving force behind it was that members of the community have been asking us about it," Mayor Todd Stevenson said. "It's not essential for the city to provide this, but it's an additional service so that we can be good stewards to keep recyclables out of the landfill. By having the community use the infrastructure we have in place, we can do it quite a bit cheaper than a private company."
Councilman Craig Hill agreed. "Ninety percent of the community that is interested in recycling just aren't doing it because they are waiting for someone to lead out on the program. With a large group participating, the cost of the program would be lowered to something that is easily attained by everyone in the community."
During a recent council meeting, Nathan Rich, executive director of Wasatch Integrated Waste Management, said cities with a green waste program send about 90 percent of their recyclable waste to the waste energy facility, which is used to make power as part of its energy-recovery program.
"All recycling programs are compatible with the waste energy facility and the amount that this district is able to recycle will extend the life of the landfill," said Rich, who anticipates the landfill only has about 25 years left at the current usage rates. "When the landfill is full, solid waste will be hauled about 100 miles and costs will substantially increase."
A few weeks after the council approved the recycling plan, Mountain West Curbside Recycling delivered recycling cans to every resident in Fruit Heights asking them to participate in its private company's program versus the city plan. Residents had 24 hours to let the company know whether they were interested.
"We wanted to make sure everybody knew a private option was available," said Josh Hughes, owner of Mountain West Curbside Recycling, who is worried the city program will have a substantial impact to his business.
Currently, the cost of recycling with his business is $10 per month, but if it gets enough participation from the city, its rates will be equivalent to what Fruit Heights is planning to offer.
Hughes addressed the council before it made a decision, saying, "The residents who want to recycle are already getting it from my private business now."
Stevenson responded by saying that the current waste hauler, Robinson Waste is also a small, privately owned business. The city plans to spend the next couple months communicating with the residents about their plan, offering an open house for questions and giving plenty of time for residents to make a decision.