City to Pursue Curbside Recycling

Communications Director

Kristin Farley
(865) 215-2589

400 Main St., Room 691
Knoxville, TN 37902

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City to Pursue Curbside Recycling

Posted: 06/17/2009
The City of Knoxville will use part of a $2.012 million federal stimulus grant to try and establish a single-stream, curbside recycling program for residents.

In addition to the recycling effort the city wants to use funds from the Energy Efficiency & Conservation Block Grant Program - part of the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act - to support seven different energy and conservation related initiatives. The U.S. Department of Energy is managing the block grants.

City Council approved the administration's proposal during its Tuesday night meeting. The city will now submit the plans to DOE for the federal agency's approval. 
"Curbside recycling is something we've been looking at for some time but we've struggled with how to fund the upfront costs involved in starting a program, for instance paying for the recycling bins," said Bill Lyons, senior director of the city's Policy & Communications Department. "There are also some other issues we need to consider but this grant could give us the means of turning a city curbside recycling program into a reality." 
Currently Knoxville operates 11 recycling drop centers throughout the city, which collect about 6,000 tons of recyclable materials a year. The city's household garbage contractor, Waste Connections, also offers a pay single-stream, curbside recycling service to more than 2,000 households in the city. Other vendors also offer similar services.

Single-stream refers to using a single container for all recyclable materials, rather than residents having to separate out various materials - like plastic or paper - into different contains.

The purpose of the energy block grants is help local governments develop initiatives to increase energy efficiency and use of renewable energy technology, reduce fossil fuel emissions and create jobs and stimulate economic growth among other goals. 
"This is an opportunity to support some sustainability initiatives that we've been looking at but haven't had the resources to implement," said Erin Burns, the city's sustainability coordinator.

The City of Knoxville responded to the program with a seven-part plan that touches on most of the major applications allowed by the energy efficiency and conservation block grants.

The city's plan includes:

Transitioning to curbside recycling ($700,000) Incentives for improving the energy efficiency and sustainability of new and existing buildings in the city ($300,000) Funding for upfront costs of the city's planned energy efficiency money to its buildings, parks and other facilities ($261,518) Funding for a fulltime energy & sustainability program manager for three years to manage the block grant funds as well as other energy efficiency money the city is seeking ($261,182) Installation of a solar photo-voltaic array on the roof of the Knoxville Convention Center ($250,000) Supplementing the Knoxville-Knox County Community Action Committee's Whole House Weatherization Service which serves low-income customers ($200,000) Training Workshops on International Energy Conservation Codes and/or EarthCraft House Renovation Certification for contractors and city community development staff ($40,000) 
"We've made a decision to dedicate a significant portion of the funds to programs that will directly impact the community," Lyons said.

The city must submit its proposal to the DOE by June 25.