St. Pete continues to dodge curbside recycling

The guys over at St. Petersblog continue to push the St. Pete curbside recycling issue in their own snarky way. Yesterday, they posted a link to a form letter you can use to write Mayor Rick Baker urging him to adopt curbside recycling. Today, they've added a scathing response to a form letter they received after e-mailing Mayor Baker.

Particularly galling to the bloggers is this paragraph written by Sanitation Coordinator Bill Sundstrom:

A curbside program would have an annual operating budget in excess of $3 million dollars; generate environmental detriments associated with additional fuel consumption (20,000 gallons per year), vehicle air emissions and potable water usage, with minimal impacts to extending the life span of the Pinellas County Landfill. The high cost of operating a curbside program must be compared to the low resource return, typically from a 2%-4% reduction of the waste stream. This imbalance represents a negative influence on resource conservation, which is the goal of recycling.

That's my bold up there, because I'm calling bullshit on this one, too.

Last December, during a tour of Pinellas County's Bridgeway Acres, I interviewed sanitation technician Rick Clarke, who told me recycling is crucial to the longevity of the county's landfill.

"Seventy percent of this doesn't need to be here," he said as we stood on top of an 80-foot mound of trash (the highest point in Pinellas County, I might add). "If all we did was recycle paper, we'd chop a third of it right there."

When I questioned him on his feelings about the lack of curbside in St. Pete, Clarke didn't want to comment, though he did say, "Where cities have curbside, there is a lot less recyclables [at the landfill]."

The fact is, St. Pete adds a disproportionate amount of recyclable trash to the county's landfill. Even the county has recognized this: they're considering taking care of St. Pete's recycling themselves.

I don't blame St. Pete officials for not wanting to start an expensive program when the county might go ahead and pay for it. But tell citizens that and don't spoon us bullshit like the letter above.

In the meantime, maybe environmental types should take a look at St. Pete Recycling Solutions.

(photo credit: Peter Kaminski on Flikr)

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