Benderson: Recycling program will be back

Published 11:15 pm Friday, May 15, 2015

The big red bins for the city of Selma’s recycling program were removed from their location a little over a month ago, but the program is far from being done.

Planning and Development Director James Benderson said the city’s recycling program will be back and better than ever.

“We haven’t abandoned the program,” Benderson said. “The city and the mayor’s office are committed to getting it rolled back out. We’ve just got to roll it back out right. We didn’t really expect our vendor to say he was getting out of the business.”

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The vendor that was handling the city’s program, which was Holley’s Recycling, wanted to get out of recycling because of the fluctuation of profits due to the cost of recyclables.

“The profits from the recycling business are up and down, up and down, and like any business person, they wanted to cover their expenses to make a little bit of money,” Benderson said.

One of the main problems the program was facing was people misusing the bins, which cost Holley a lot of money to sort through the unrecyclable goods.

“We want to work towards a sense of community ownership for the bins because one of the issues with the vendor was that a lot of waste products were being put inside the recycle bins that weren’t recyclables,” Benderson said.

People were putting things like mattresses, televisions and other items that were not able to be recycled. Benderson said people have also been leaving their recyclables where the bins once sat, but that is only causing more issues.

“We just want the community to know we’re trying to get it resolved as fast as we can, and to not put their recyclables at the old sites because they are not going to be recycled,” Benderson said.

Since the city got news of Holley wanting to get out of the business at the first of the year, they have been working at getting what is needed to take over the program for itself.

Benderson said the city has applied for a grant from the Alabama Department of Environmental Management that totals around $90,000.

The grant will be used to purchase a truck, forklift and two balers to put the recyclables into bales.

“The grant from ADEM will allow us to get our own equipment, so we can do it as a city ourselves,” Benderson said. “We’re not so much interested in the profit from it. We just want to provide the service to the community, and once we have all the equipment, then we can do that. But until then, we have to find a vendor willing to do it.”

Benderson hoped to have the bins back out by now, but the first round of bids from potential vendors wasn’t acceptable.

He hopes to rebid the program out in the next couple of weeks to try to get the bins back out sometime in June.

Benderson expects to find out about the grant sometime in the fall, and if it is approved then the program will be entirely run by the city and expanded.

“Not only did we have the current service area we were doing, but we were going to add more bins and expand the program, so it was kind of an unfortunate situation,” Benderson said.