BY MELANIE YOUNG
Trenton resident Emily Hornbeck has been a proponent of bringing curbside recycling to Trenton since 2013. The odds of her dream becoming reality are slim, at least for now.
She began her initiative shortly after she moved to Trenton. She lived in a city that had recycling for years, so to not have it here was strange to her. Currently, if you live in Trenton and wish to recycle, residents must go to the Transfer Station on Van Horn Road that has limited hours.
It’s frustrating to Hornbeck.
“It shouldn’t be this hard to do something that’s such a no-brainer for the environment.”
Hornbeck’s efforts were recently revived when several people on her Facebook Page, “Bring Curbside Recycling to Trenton, MI,” inquired about starting a petition. She opened one on Change.org and currently there are nearly 500 signatures. Hornbeck said her most recent communication with the city about the issue was last winter after a budget session that didn’t go well for her cause.
From the city’s perspective, they have made efforts to bring the curbside recycling to residents. Several years ago, there was a subscription service for recycling but not many residents took part.
Last winter and spring, the city convened a committee to study the issue of waste management services for the city. Elected officials needed to decide to replace aging trucks or to privatize. The committee recommended that the city privatize waste management services. One of the benefits cited was a cost savings of $220,000.
The city sought bids for trash and recycling services and received five. As part of a budget presentation to council in May, the Mayor included privatization of waste services. That budget was voted down 4-3.
According to Wagner, “We spent a lot of time putting together bids because we thought it was in the best interest of the city but we couldn’t garner enough votes.”
As far as the recycling portion goes, Wagner has a simple explanation as to why the city cannot offer it currently.
“The major problem is that we collect our own trash. For us to recycle, we would have to purchase our own vehicle. That is currently not an option.”
Trenton is one of only a few cities in Southeast Michigan that collects its own trash. With the purchase of the new trucks, the city will be doing trash pickup for at least the next six or seven years, according to Wagner.
Most surrounding cities have curbside recycling and privatized trash pickup. In Woodhaven, they have recently signed a new contract with Rizzo Environmental Services that will provide residents with a large covered can for recyclables. It actually saves the city money, according to Woodhaven DPS Director Tim Neighbors.
“With more people recycling, the less dump fees we pay at the land fill,” he said. Residents pay for the service as part of their taxes.
Wagner and the city of Trenton are looking at other alternatives for residents who would like to see curbside recycling in the city. He is working with the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, as well as investigating other options for residents.
“I know we need to make a change to make it more approachable for residents.”