Curbside recycling suspended in Globe; no change in customer fees

Photo by Carol Broeder/Arizona Silver Belt Right Away Disposal (RAD) District Manager Jeremy Takas makes a presentation to the Globe City Council during its May 14 regular meeting. At the May 21 special meeting, the council voted to suspend curbside recycling in Globe, at least for now, at the request of RAD.

The City of Globe has suspended its curbside recycling service as of this week.

Residents may keep their blue cans and use them for any type of trash as needed, according to a press release from City Manager Paul Jepson.

Globe residents will no longer need to sort their trash, as Right Away Disposal (RAD) will pick up both the brown and blue cans as they make their rounds, emptying them into the same truck, he said.

With this change, Globe residents will have two cans to place their trash in for RAD to pick up.

Without a dedicated recycling truck, there will now be only one truck serving customers, Jepson said.

While RAD’s service has changed, what will not change is the amount Globe residents will pay.

Even though RAD no longer requires customers to separate their trash into different bins, the cost and volume of trash RAD collects and disposes of has not changed, Jepson said.

In addition, RAD will continue to use two trucks each day, he said.

While RAD will see a cost savings due to splitting the routes and using only one truck to pick up both cans, any savings are offset by the additional costs of landfill dump fees, he said.

During the Globe City Council’s May 28 regular meeting, Councilwoman Charlene Giles said, “RAD has been such a problem for so many residents and I’m one of them.”

She then referred to the letters of complaint she has received from customers.

Jepson read the curbside recycling FAQ sheet and asked anyone with questions to contact him.

“I would rather you reach out to me before it ends up on Facebook, so that we can get the information out,” he said. “You may not be happy with the answers, but I’d be happy to share the information.”

Jepson pointed out that “many other communities have these problems,” not just Globe.

“We will make the best of it and we will also be looking at community options,” he said. “Even if we can’t do curbside recycling, I do believe there are ways we can do some type of recycling, but we’ll keep working on that.”

Answering concerns Giles had expressed, Jepson said that both the curbside recycling FAQ sheet and the flier would be mailed as soon as the envelopes are stuffed. 

Notices will go out to every address on the customer list, he said.

Praising Jepson for his “12-paragraph press release,” Giles said, “People had all these questions and he answered them so well.”

At its special meeting Tuesday, May 21, the council voted to alter its contract with RAD, suspending curbside recycling at RAD’s request.

This spring, RAD representatives had approached city officials with its request, citing the collapse of the recycling commodity market.

In 2016, when RAD bid the most recent city contract, “the recycling market was healthy and thriving,” Jepson said in his press release.

At the time, Globe benefited from the market upswing by receiving a lower cost in trash services, as RAD was able to sell recyclable materials to subsidize its trash collection costs, he said.

Once the largest buyer of recycled paper and cardboard, China is now only buying a fraction of what they were in 2016, Jepson said.

Many Arizona communities face the same challenges as Globe. In fact, Superior, Show Low, Safford, Camp Verde and Kingman already eliminated their recycling programs, he said.

Because RAD had based its rates on the 2016 market price of recyclables, after the market crashed, the company struggled to break even in providing trash service to Globe, he said.

RAD is a for-profit company, and, if operating at a loss, it had the right to exercise the termination clause in its contract with the city, Jepson said. 

The council voted May 21 to suspend curbside recycling to guarantee a continuity of trash collection, which was placed in jeopardy by changes over which RAD and the city had no control, he said.

“The bottom line is that if the city did not allow RAD to suspend recycling, Globe faced a real possibility of disruption in all trash collection for all residents,” Jepson said.

RAD would have continued collecting recyclables if the city had agreed to a $3 per month rate increase. However, the council considered it too much of a burden to place on residents to prop up a recycling program when they are struggling across the country, he said.

“I feel that the Globe City Council made the best decision given the current recycling market conditions,” said RAD District Manager Jeremy Takas. 

“I hope that things turn around soon so Globe and several other communities across the nation can continue to have reliable opportunities to recycle,” he told the Silver Belt.

Addressing the possibility of a local recycling program again in the future, Jepson said the council added a stipulation to the contract that if the international market recovers to within 85 percent of the 2016 market for six months, then RAD would restart recycling again in Globe.

The city is also looking into options for community recycling collection points for paper, plastic and glass, he said.

Responding to questions why the city could not operate its own trash service, Jepson said it would be more costly than hiring a third-party contractor who can operate at lower costs due to specialization and economy of scale.

Inititial start-up costs are between $1.3 and $1.6 million for the city to provide trash services, he said.

There would also be operating costs such as vehicle maintenance, employment, landfill fees, insurance and repairing damaged cans, Jepson said.

While initial review of projected costs showed that the city could not match RAD’s current rates, the council asked staff to do additional research, he said.

For more information, contact the City of Globe Water Department at 928-425-7146.

RAD’s need for local garbage truck drivers was discussed during the council’s May 14 regular council meeting. 

Asked for an update, Takas said, “We have an ad posted for an open driver position to service the City of Globe. We are currently evaluating applications at this time. So far, we have received one resume.”

(Editor’s note: Silver Belt Reporter Susanne Jerome contributed to this article.)

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