LAYTON -- Four cities are participating in a green-waste curbside recycling program offered by Wasatch Integrated Waste Management District, and another will join soon. But in an effort to not burden its residents, Layton's City Council has decided to say no to the program.
"The only way to make all the costs come together is to make it mandatory, and we want to shy away from that," said Layton Mayor Steve Curtis.
The program provides an extra garbage can for grass clippings and tree limbs. That can would be picked up on the regular garbage day, and its contents would be turned into usable soil enhancements.
Participating cities can handle the program two different ways. They can have an opt-in program, where residents must choose to participate, or an opt-out program, where everyone is automatically enrolled if they do not let the city know they are not interested before a set deadline.
Steve Ashby, Layton's finance director, crunched the numbers for the city council. He figured out monthly costs for residents at different participation rates.
"If participation is too low -- (and) if it is completely opt-in, then it would be too low -- the cost will be significant," Ashby said.
Nathan Rich, Wasatch Integrated Waste Management District executive director, admits the opt-in model just does not work. He said the participation numbers are always higher in opt-out programs.
"Some city councils feel that the opt-out is heavy-handed, but all you're really doing is asking someone to fill out a postcard or make a phone call, and they don't have to have a garbage can," Rich said. "You're just capturing that unfortunately large apathetic center that doesn't care one way or another, but will use the can if you bring it to them."
Layton city officials are hesitant to have the opt-out subscription because, Curtis said, they do not want to force people to participate when they do not want to be in the program.
"Oftentimes people want to opt out but truly never do," Curtis said. "True, it's their responsibility, but they forget. Then, when the date comes around and they didn't opt out, they're in the program whether they like it or not."
Fruit Heights, the first city to participate, has an opt-out procedure, as does Woods Cross, which began in early April. Centerville has its residents opt in, as does Syracuse, which also began participating in April.
West Point will begin June 1, Rich said, and will have an opt-out subscription. Monthly fees are higher when the participation rate is lower. However, Rich points out that many people have a second garbage can, and they could trade it in for a special green-waste can, and the result would be a lower monthly fee than those people are currently paying.
As far as recycling goes, Curtis says there is a misconception out there.
"Our garbage is, in fact, recycled, and a lot of people do not realize that it is," Curtis said.
Curtis said every city in Davis and Morgan counties, except for Bountiful, which has its own landfill, currently participates in a huge recycling program that is similar to traditional recycling. Garbage collected from homes is burned at the incineration facility operated by Wasatch Integrated Waste Management District.
That process produces steam and electricity. The steam is used to heat buildings on Hill Air Force Base, and Wasatach Integrated uses the electricity for its buildings.
But if Layton residents, or residents of any other city who are not participating in the green-waste recycling program, want to recycle their green waste, they will have to take the grass clippings and such to the Wasatch Integrated Waste Management District facility themselves.