Hilton Head Island has seen a nearly four-fold increase in the amount of material collected under a residential recycling program begun in April.
Town Council voted in November 2010 to grant a five-year franchise to Republic Services to provide residential waste and recycling collection.
Between April and November, an average of about 125 tons of residential recycling was collected per month, according to town figures. That compares to an average of 31 tons per month that haulers collectively reported prior to the franchise agreement, according to town reports.
A town survey found material collected for recycling had previously been thrown out as garbage, without any large reduction (about 10 tons) in what is being collected at Beaufort County's convenience center.
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"It suggests we are capturing a new stream that presumably was otherwise going to the landfill," Scott Liggett, town director of public projects and facilities, told council at its Dec. 20 meeting.
All acceptable recycling materials can be put into the same cart; no separation is required.
As of Wednesday, more than 7,900 have signed up for accounts with Republic Services since April, said Alice Derian, town contracts and services administrator.
Households with contracts for waste- or recycling-collection services have until their existing contracts expire or until Sept. 30, 2012, whichever comes first, to sign up for the program. Residents can opt out of the service but will have to haul garbage and recyclables to a county-operated dump.
Town officials have said residents' participation in voluntary recycling had been poor. Contracting with one hauler, they said, would lower costs for most residents, improve efficiency and air quality, reduce wear on roads, and increase recycling rates.
The plan excludes commercial properties and residential complexes where trash is placed in large containers. Town officials said service for those communities will be addressed later. Town Council set "evaluation and direction" for a commercial recycling program as a "moderate priority" for 2012.
"Much like with the residential program, I believe we will need the help of a consultant to analyze options and make (a) recommendation," Liggett wrote in an email.
A big part of the challenge will be the significantly different needs of the various commercial customers, wrote town manager Steve Riley.
"The differences between a doctor's office and a restaurant; a CPA and an autobody shop; long-term rental and weekly rental -- they all generate different types and volumes of trash and have different needs as far as frequency of collection," Riley said in an email.
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- Waste and Recycling Collection Program for the Town of Hilton Head Island
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- Island increases recycling collection in program's first month: June 4, 2011