KEEP RECYCLING COSTS REASONABLE
CURBSIDE RECYCLING will soon be coming to La Grande. After years of getting by with an exemption because residents have maintained a reasonably high level of recycling, the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality has notified the City of La Grande that recycling has fallen below acceptable levels and that it needs to have a curbside program in place by Dec. 31. The program is long overdue.
Curbside recycling is a fact of life in most cities with a population of 4,000 and over. La Grande is one of four of 79 cities in the state that has avoided this by asking residents to haul their recyclables to a recycling center. Over the years, the program has worked well, but recycling rates have fallen off in recent years.
What people will discover once curbside is offered, is that the convenience of being able to set out recyclables weekly or every other week is worth the cost. But the reality is that curbside recycling does carry a cost.
City Garbage Service, a private business that provides garbage collection and recycling in La Grande, has estimated that weekly curbside recycling would cost an additional $4.64 a month. That amounts to $1.16 a week for the convenience. It's not a lot of money, but it's too much for a lot of residents considering all the other increased costs people have been faced with over the past couple of years. City Garbage has also proposed an every-other-week rate of $2.02 a month.
THE LA GRANDE CITY COUNCIL will need to keep the impact on residents in mind when it takes up the issue July 17. Recycling is important, but so is making sure that the cost won't put too much of a burden on residents Â— even if the change is mandated and La Grande has no choice but to initiate a curbside program.
In addition to the cost of paying for curbside, residents are eventually going to see an additional cost for garbage service. City Garbage is estimating it will have to charge about $1.20 more a month because dumping fees at Fox Hill Landfill will be going from $17 a ton to $22. The additional garbage fee should be incentive for people to recycle more and throw away less, thus reducing the need for weekly garbage collection. City Garbage does offer the option of every-other-week garbage pickup.
ADDRESSING SOLID WASTE needs and costs is something communities all across the state, and the nation for that matter, have had to contend with. It doesn't come cheaply. The reality is that citizens have to bear the costs for the multitude of requirements that have been put in place over the years.
Curbside recycling is a service that residents will find is convenient. Making sure the cost is not so exorbitant that people will regret the convenience is the job of the city council. La Grande residents need pricing options for both garbage collection and curbside recycling. People need an incentive to throw away less and recycle more.