Nashville, TN looking for ways to fund bi-weekly recycling collection by 2020
- Nashville Mayor David Briley asked Metro Public Works officials to formulate plans and specific costs for making curbside recycling collection a bi-weekly service during a March 22 budget hearing. The goal would be to offer this service in 2020, as reported by the Tennesseean.
- Public works officials believe they have a "unique opportunity" to pursue this idea because of available grant funding from Tennessee's Department of Environment and Conversation. One grant would provide up to $500,000 for capital costs and another could provide $100,000 per new collection vehicle. Grant funding from The Recycling Partnership was also mentioned.
- Making this switch for residents in the Metro government's Urban Services District is estimated to cost $4.5 million. Based on available grant funding, officials believe that cost could be reduced to $1.5 million and the balance could be offset by new revenue derived from increased service.
It's unclear where all of those goals stand since former Mayor Megan Barry abruptly resigned earlier this month, though Mayor Briley's comments were supportive at this week's budget hearing and multiple members of the Metro Council are also on board. More policy stability can be expected once the Tennessee Supreme Court sets a date for the next mayoral election.
At the time, recommendations for boosting diversion included more focus on food waste — which the city has since engaged on with groups such as the Natural Resources Defense Council — and making curbside recycling service biweekly. Another recommendation was to offer glass recycling service for downtown businesses, which began this year.
According to Metro Nashville Public Works, the overall "public sector recycling rate" (which includes more than curbside residential service) was 28% for FY17. Based on the data from the first eight months of FY18, that rate is now 25%.
Making service biweekly would likely boost capture rates, and could improve diversion rates as well, though will prevent plenty of new variables to manage amid turbulent times for recycling. The move would require new education to mitigate contamination and also thorough modeling to ensure any commodity-based revenue projections are stable. If Nashville does end up receiving grant funding from The Recycling Partnership, the nonprofit would bring national experience in many of these areas.
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