As Bulloch County ends its curbside recycling program in Statesboro and other towns, a local business owner intends to begin offering a similar service, but at a higher fee and with two containers per household instead of one.
Statesboro City Council gave Jeff Leggett a unanimous OK Tuesday to begin collecting recyclables from residents who subscribe to his service. Leggett thought up the recycling service, he said, as something that he and his son Cole, 15, can work at together while Cole learns about business and the value of money.
Owner of an established pest control company, Leggett said he will apply knowledge from 18 years in business to his new CT Recycling.
“My background is service,” he told City Council. “I understand how a service industry works and what I need to do to make it happen. How big it will get, I’m not really sure.”
CT Recycling will pick up recyclables from each home every two weeks. Leggett and his son will do this on Saturdays at first. But if demand is greater, Leggett said, he has two men available who could work other days. He has a truck and said he will now order containers.
Unlike the county’s service, which was created with grant funding and charged participating residents $20 per year, Leggett’s will have a monthly fee. He had not decided the exact fee, but said he is considering $14 to $15 month.
Leggett will not get any money from the sale of the materials. They will still be delivered to the county’s recycling processing center. So the county will receive the proceeds from selling the materials that Leggett collects, as County Manager Tom Couch has confirmed. The county also continues to provide 17 convenience centers for residents to drop off sorted recyclables.
As a “single stream” service, the county’s curbside program accepted all types of recyclables, together, in one big, yellow and blue poly cart. But Leggett plans to provide each customer with two smaller bins. One will be for cardboard and paper. The other will be for aluminum, plastics, and glass.
“Instead of a comingled service that’s currently in place, I’ll actually be doing a dual-stream service,” he said.
This way, he hopes to reduce cross-contamination, as when liquids from cans and bottles damage paper and cardboard.
Leggett said he is working with staff from Georgia Southern University’s Business Innovation Group to create information packets for customers. Applications and payment for the service will be handled through a website.
County ending program
Earlier this year, Couch reported that the cost of the county’s curbside service was far exceeding its income. Revenue totaled about $26,000 for the year, the sum of $16,000 from the user fees plus $10,000 from the sale of the recyclables. Couch estimated the expenses at $78,075, which included a capital cost projection for eventual replacement of the truck and carts.
That was with the county serving about 600 addresses in Statesboro, 135 in Brooklet and 60 in Portal. The service has not been available countywide, only in these towns.
Meanwhile, Fred White, Bulloch County’s solid waste director since January, reported that much of the recyclable material received in the single-stream service was contaminated. Some customers used the carts as auxiliary garbage carts, White said.
Earlier this summer, county officials announced that the service would end Sept. 1, but Couch said Wednesday that this may be delayed till mid-September so that Leggett’s service can be ready for customers who want it.
At the city meeting, Leggett said he hopes to start Sept. 1.
City as competition
Councilman Phil Boyum expressed a desire for the city to look at doing a curbside recycling service of its own.
If the city tripled the $20 annual fee and had 600 or 700 customers, Boyum said, he thinks “the numbers could start getting close, and if it costs a little bit, maybe it’s a service that people are looking for.”
“But I don’t think it’s something that’s going to end up costing us hundreds of thousands of dollars,” Boyum said, asking interim City Manager Robert Cheshire for confirmation.
Cheshire said staff members would need to study the potential cost.
Councilman Will Britt suggested that Cheshire ask the county for the city’s share of assets from the current recycling program after it ends, since it was originally funded by a shared grant. Cheshire said this is being done.
Boyum also said he wants to see Keep Bulloch Beautiful restarted. County and city officials have said that the loss of Keep Bulloch Beautiful as an active organization, after the departure of KBB executive director Kelly Collingsworth in early 2014, aggravated problems with the curbside service.
Boyum said he was concerned about approving Leggett’s venture now only to push him out when the city decides to launch its own service.
Mayor Jan Moore told Leggett that she hoped he would understand that, if the city does an analysis and finds it can provide a program for less, citizens “are going to demand their recycling at a price they can afford.”
“So I think that comes with some risk to you, if you want to enter into this and try this for a year and try to get your cost down and try to be competitive,” she told Leggett.
He said he understood.
“I view it that we have two more streams of income than Mr. Leggett has,” Britt said.
City officials, he said, could request a cut from the county’s sale of recyclables, and could also take into account how recycling reduces the city’s expenses in sending household waste to a landfill near Jesup.
With the understanding that the city will complete a study by July 1 of the feasibility of operating its own service, council approved a written agreement for Leggett to collect recyclables as a one-year pilot project.