Changes are coming to the city’s recycling program. During Tuesday’s virtual meeting of the City of Delaware Public Works and Public Utilities Committee, members discussed a curbside tipcart recycling pilot project that will replace residents’ multiple bins with a single tipcart.
The program is in response to considerable demand and support shown from the community during a previous survey for the switch to tipcarts, Public Works Director Bill Ferrigno said during the meeting.
Ferrigno announced in the meeting that the city has received a $50,000 grant from the Delaware, Knox, Marion, Morrow Solid Waste District (DKMM) to purchase approximately 850 64-gallon tipcarts to begin the project, which will start in the southeast portion of the city. Ferrigno said the area was chosen to test the program because it has “good road width, and we already have very high participation — probably the highest in the city —in that area for recycling.”
Tipcarts should begin being distributed in March or early April to kick off the program, with their use beginning in mid to late April. Ferrigno said the full details of the program are still being sorted out, but the program will be opened up to all existing residential recycling customers, as well as anyone not currently recycling but wants to be a part of the pilot program.
“I’ve talked about it to quite a few people when we first talked about it,” Committee Chairman Chris Jones said of the pilot program. “A lot of people are excited about it. They like the idea of throw everything into one bin instead of taking up multiple spots in the garage for different things. So, I think we’re going to see a big improvement in our recycling participation.”
Ferrigno said he has heard similar excitement from residents, and he added that when the day comes for the switch, the current blue bins will be serviced and taken. A green tipcart will then be left behind for residents to begin using. “If we do good public information, it should be a pretty smooth process,” he said.
As for how long the pilot program will run, Ferrigno said it can last “as long as we want it to measure what is success.” He went on to say the city wants to make sure both the residents and the operators are comfortable using the carts, although he “sees no reason why they wouldn’t be.”
If the tipcarts are well-received over the course of a few months, and there are no issues that can’t be reasonably fixed, Ferrigno said the expectation will be for the program to expand across the city.
Following the discussion of the tipcart program, Ferrigno updated the committee on conversations regarding rate changes for refuse collection services in the city. Conversations on potential rate increases began in the fall. However, both City Manager Tom Homan and Finance Director Justin Nahvi have asked that specific discussions on the rate changes be pushed back to later this year. The request to table the discussions stems from both wanting to be able to incorporate all changes in refuse services into the new rates, as well as not wanting to increase rates during a time of financial hardship for many.
While the discussions on specific rate changes have been pushed back, Ferrigno did provide an update on what factors will play into the rate changes. Among those factors are the increased costs of equipment and materials since the last rate increase in 2016, the purchasing of tipcarts for the entire city if the program is expanded, as well as the need for additional refuse staffing as the city continues to expand.
Another element of deciding the eventual rate increase will be an adjustment on the senior discount, Ferrigno said.
“One thing we do need direction on in order to help develop that is we talked about increasing the eligibility rate from 55 years that it currently is to as high as 65 years, which is your typical state retirement,” he said. “Also, expanding eligibility for senior households to any senior household versus just single senior households now. And also aligning our discount with what the area-wide typical discount is, which is 10%.”
Discussions on the rate increases will continue through committee meetings later this year, with the rate changes likely going into effect in 2022.