Hailey residents will soon have more options for garbage bin sizes, providing an opportunity for some households to save money. The change also could provide economic incentives for separating recyclable materials from household rubbish.
Under a new franchise agreement with Clear Creak Disposal, Hailey residents able to reduce the amount of their household garbage from 95 gallons to 69 gallons each week would save about $6 per month using the new "medium-size' bins. One way to reduce overall garbage volume, and use the smaller bins, is to separate recyclable materials for curbside pickup.
Hailey has led the valley in recycling and green building efforts, signing in 2007 the U.S. Mayors Climate Protection Agreement, complying with the Kyoto Protocol to reduce greenhouse emissions, before other cities in the valley. Recycling of bottles, cans, paper and other materials in Hailey doubled from 2004 to 2010.
The city has had a "pay-as-you-throw" trash program since the 1990s, charging more for larger garbage bins and presumably creating an incentive to divert recyclable materials from the landfill. Yet some residents felt that the large bins were too large, and the small bins too small.
After receiving a citizen's request for medium-size bins, Hailey Sustainability Director Mariel Platt provided to the City Council a review of pay-as-you-throw garbage hauling programs around the country in December.
Platt's report states that all municipalities in California, Oregon and Washington offer recycling and "pay-as-you-throw" incentives, compared with only 22 percent of Colorado and Utah cities and 12 percent of Idaho cities.
Platt said that despite Hailey's record of increasing recycling amounts over the past seven years, the city continues to recycle at less than half the national average.
Residents have for several years had the option of using a 32-gallon or 95-gallon trash bin, with once-a-week pickup costing $11 and $28 per month, respectively.
Under the new franchise agreement, the large bins will cost $24.92 per month. The smallest bins will be reduced from $11.80 to $10.25.
Under the new agreement, residents will have the additional option of using a 69-gallon bin at a cost of $18.72 per month, potentially saving about $6 per month.
"The goal is to recycle more and reduce the amount of waste," Platt said in an interview on Tuesday.
Platt said in December that Hailey's position as the largest city in Blaine County means that it carries a proportionally larger role in maintaining recycling services for the county as a whole.
Citing a worst-case scenario, Platt said that if Hailey's recycling efforts diminished considerably, it could reduce the economy of scale that supports the countywide recycling program at the Ohio Gulch transfer station.
"Because Hailey is the largest community in the county [aside from unincorporated areas that do not have curbside recycling], a decrease in recycling participation in Hailey could mean a large enough drop in volume for the entire county, to the degree that the economics could render recycling unfeasible for the entire county," she said.
Ohio Gulch transfer station north of Hailey currently recycles tin and aluminum cans, glass, mixed paper (including cereal boxes), newspapers, magazines, phone books, plastic bottles and containers categories 1-7 and corrugated cardboard.