GREEN RIVER — Wyoming Waste Services asked to increase residential rates for curbside recycling services during the Green River City Council workshop Tuesday night.
Mayor Pete Rust said at the start of the workshop that no decisions would be made regarding this issue at this time, and that this is a discussion for now. Council Members Gary Killpack, Mike Shutran and Robert Berg were absent from the meeting.
Michelle Foote, site manager of Wyoming Waste Services, said that the cost to process recyclables has increased by $10,716 this year compared to in 2022. They will see similar costs in 2024. To cover that cost, Wyoming Waste is asking for a 4.25% increase to residential rates.
Wyoming Waste is already proposing a 3.7% base rate increase for residential services. To cover that rising costs for recycling services, Wyoming Waste is asking for an additional 0.55% increase. Overall, Wyoming Waste is proposing a 4.25% rate increase. Foote said that currently the rate is $39.42 per month, and this proposal would increase monthly rates to $41.10.
In Wyoming Waste Systems’ contract with the City of Green River, it states they are allowed to use the United States Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Consumer Pride Index (CPI) to determine rate increases and decreases. The CPI is what allows Wyoming Waste to have a base increase.
Foote explained that Wyoming Waste collects cardboard, plastics, metals, and paper items all in one bin, and those are then pushed into a walking floor trailer. The loads are then transported to a materials recovery facility (MRF) in Salt Lake City where they hand sort the materials and take the separated items to the proper facilities. Wyoming Waste is charged for the processing of the types of items in each load. When they send materials off, it is the cost of processing those recyclables that has increased.
Council Member Sherry Bushman asked whether recycling is cost effective, to which Foote said it is not and she doesn’t know if or when it ever will be. Bushman questioned whether the services should continue in Green River if it is not cost effective.
“I like the program, I’m all for recycling, but it’s got to make sense. It’s got to make business sense,” Bushman said.
Foote said that while it is not cost effective, somewhere around 75-80% of residents use the curbside recycling program. People like the program and like knowing their items are being recycled, she said. Additionally, she pointed out that from January to February of this year, over 247,980 pounds of recyclables have been transported by Wyoming Waste to the MRF in Salt Lake City. Without the recycling program, an additional 124 tons of recyclable materials would have gone to the Sweetwater County landfill so far this year, Foote said.
Council Member Ron Williams said that while a 0.55% rate increase is minimal for residents, it should also be minimal for Wyoming Waste to cover that cost. He said that if Wyoming Waste has a 10-year contract with the city, if Green River decided not to approve the rate increase then Wyoming Waste would have to eat that cost. Foote said that while Wyoming Waste would still pick up the recycling, they could choose to take it to the landfill.
Council Member George Jost tossed around the idea to stop recycling some of the materials that Wyoming Waste currently picks up to cut costs of processing. Foote said that it is an option to stop collecting plastics, stating that if they just collected cardboard and paperboard they could transport it to the Ray Lovato Recycling Center in Rock Springs for $43 per ton.
In addition to the recycling request, Foote also asked the Council to change the wording in the contract for yard waste collections. Currently, Wyoming Waste does a year-round yard waste collection. However, Foote said they would like to change that to mid-April to mid-November, with one week in January for Christmas trees. She said that if people did have yard waste during the off period, they could take it to the transfer station for no extra charge. Foote did not have a dollar amount for what the cost saving would be, however, Mayor Rust said that if there was a cost saving then maybe residents could see a decrease in rates.