City to Become Part of a Model City Recycling Initiative

Communications Director

Kristin Farley
(865) 215-2589

400 Main St., Room 691
Knoxville, TN 37902

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City to Become Part of a Model City Recycling Initiative

Posted: 12/18/2008
The City of Knoxville will become only the second "model city" for recycling in the United States after agreeing to enter into a partnership aimed at substantially increasing residential recycling in the city.

City Council unanimously approved a resolution Tuesday night authorizing the city to reach an agreement with the American Beverage Association and the Washington D.C.-based The Climate Group to survey Knoxville's current residential recycling and create a realistic plan to increase it.

As part of that effort, referred to as the "Model City Initiative," the city will receive up to $200,000 worth of services to help it with the study and planning process.

The ABA and The Climate Group hope to add "model cities" to its program in the future but selected Knoxville to be the first one in the Southeast after looking at several possible choices in the region.

"[We] liked what the staff at the City of Knoxville was doing and chose to come here," Kate Krebs, with The Climate Group, told Council members during the meeting.

She told the group that the ABA and Climate Group will work with city staffers to survey Knoxville's current waste collection and recycling methods and then, "bring whatever we can from across the country, or across the globe," in terms of the best strategies for the city to increase recycling.

Mayor Bill Haslam told Krebs the city looks forward to working with her and the two groups and is eager to move forward on the cutting edge of recycling technology.

"A lot of our citizens have expressed interest in increased recycling opportunities, particularly a possible city-wide curbside recycling program," Haslam said after the meeting. "This is an opportunity to receive some excellent technical assistance to see where we are and where we can go.

"It will help us assess the costs and benefits of a curbside residential program and help determine if we want to go in that direction," Haslam added.

Currently the City of Knoxville's Public Service Department offers a drop center recycling program that recovered roughly 6,000 tons of recyclable material last year. The city receives between $450,000 and $500,000 in revenue for that material based on market conditions. The costs of the program run from $450,000 to $550,000 and are based on citizen usage of the centers and transportation of the recyclables to a recovery facility.

The city's Solid Waste Division currently offers 11 recycling drop-off centers around the city.

Waste Connections, the city's contractor for household garbage pickup, also offers curbside recycling to city residents as a private, for-pay, service. About 1,500 households participate in that program. The curbside program results in about 450 tons of recyclable material each year.

Preliminary estimates are that curbside recycling could increase the amount of recyclable material from the 6,000 tons to more than 20,000 tons if it went to a curbside recycling program.

A single stream curbside program would basically mean that residential recycling would become as easy as throwing away garbage, since residents would no longer be required to separate materials at home. Instead, residents would place all recyclable materials in one large receptacle, which would be picked up by truck and transported to a materials recovery facility.

A major focus of the "Model City" initiative will be a survey to gauge the interest city residents have in taking part in such a program.

Evaluating the feasibility of adopting a universal curbside recycling program was one of the recommendations submitted to the city by the Waste & Recycling Work Group - a subcommittee of the City's Energy & Sustainability Task Force.

Other grant items will include a comprehensive waste study and a financial analysis of the city's current waste disposal methods and access to a database program to monitor changes in that system.