ESB Presents Recommendation Regarding Brush & Bulk Item Collection Program To County Council Feb. 14

Example of a bulky brush pile ready for pickup. Courtesy image

COUNTY News:

At the Feb. 14 Los Alamos County Council meeting, the Environmental Sustainability Board (ESB) will present its findings and recommendation regarding the Brush and Bulk Item Collection Program.

The following recommendations will go before County Council for review and approval:

Final Recommendation:

  • Collect brush only utilizing an “Organic Yard Trimming Roll-Cart,” and offer a paid scheduled collection for bulk items.

Alternative A:

  • Collect brush only on a quarterly basis and offer a paid scheduled collection of bulk items at a reduced cost of $25 per collection. Alternative A further reduces the cost of the program, reduces unsightliness of bulk items, does not address unsightliness of brush items, and may not further improve diversion.

Alternative B:

  • Collect brush and bulk items separately in alternate quarters and offer a paid scheduled collection of brush or bulk items at a reduced cost of $25 per collection. This recommendation will reduce the cost of the program, may not address unsightliness, and increases the diversion. For example:
    • Winter – Collect bulk items
    • Spring – Collect brush
    • Summer – Collect bulk items
    • Fall – Collect brush

The ESB determined the Final Recommendation or “Organic Yard Trimming Roll-Cart” to be the best option for reducing curb-side unsightliness and it will increase waste diversion rates. It aligns with the long-term plan for sustainability more so than Alternative A or B. It is the most cost effective option after the initial financial investment to implement the program. An “Organic Yard Trimming Roll-Cart” program would require an initial capital investment of $630,000 to purchase roll carts and one automated collection truck.

Additionally, one full-time employee ($50,000 annually) would be needed to safely and effectively manage the collection, processing and hauling. An estimated annual savings of $108,000 would be realized after this investment. However, as operational costs continue to increase primarily due to hauling, landfill tipping fees, and landfill gas mitigation, the savings would be used to offset these operational costs. This program would be similar to the curb-side recycle collection program, where the resident would use a roll-cart to store organic yard trimming and then place the roll-cart at the curb for collection.

Public input was collected during July 2015 and July 2016. The ESB held several public meetings and hosted the open forum survey which guidedthe development of the recommendation for the Brush and Bulk Collection Program. During the research and analysis of the current Brush and Bulk Item Collection Program, it was discovered that brush collection accounts for 71 percent of all stops made, while bulk collection accounts for only 29 percent. However, by weight, bulk items account for 71 percent of the material collected, while brush items account for only 29 percent. This data indicates that the demand for brush collection is far greater than for bulk collection.

Additionally, the data gathered in a recent waste sort indicates that there is potential to divert 14 percent, or 1,017 tons, of brush from the residential waste stream. In 2015, only 22 percent, or 256 tons, of all residential brush was collected using the Brush and Bulk Item Collection Program.

The ESB welcomes any additional public input either in support or opposition to these recommendations and invites the public to join the ESB at the County Council meeting at 5:30 p.m. Feb. 14 in Council Chambers, 1000 Central Ave.

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