Peoria Trash Talk: Curbside Recycling Shoved Down Residents' (Trash) Cans Five Years Ago, And It's Worked Out Beautifully

Peoria officials are looking at dropping residents monthly garbage fees by 13 percent -- from $15.06 to $13.10.

Hey, every penny counts.

But it's likely that wouldn't be the case if the city hadn't forced its residents to embrace curbside recycling a few years back.

A bit of history.

For many years, Peoria was the only major city in the Valley without a curbside recycling program. Environmentally-minded residents had to load up their recyclables in their cars and haul them to dumpsters city officials placed in the parking lots of parks, churches or grocery stores.

While neighboring cities were adopting recycling programs, Peoria voters rejected the idea in 2001 because they were twisted up about a 50 cent increase in their monthly bill and worried about losing one day of garbage pickup to recycling. They were certain that their trash cans would be overflowing with garbage.

By 2006, the City Council started talking about curbside recycling again, and convened a panel of citizens to review the city's options. The body eventually recommended that the city go for it, and by the end of the year, the council decided the city would join the rest of the civilized world and offer curbside recycling.

And, oh, what consternation it caused -- many residents upset at the idea that the council was forcing on them what voters had already rejected five years earlier.

But guess what? It's worked out beautifully.

Bill Mattingly, the Public Works and Utilities Director in Peoria, says that in October 2011, Peoria's recycling program celebrated it's fourth anniversary and has created environmental and economic benefits for Peoria.

Since the program began, Peoria residents have recycled more than 59,066 tons of waste that would have otherwise ended up in a landfill. The first year, residents recycled about 17 percent of the city's garbage. For the last three years, it's been 25 percent.

Also, Peoria collects about $1.45 million from recycling and saves $1.4 million in landfill disposal fees.

And despite the whining about the 50 cent monthly increase, the city's savings are directly responsible for a proposal before the Peoria City Council to drop trash collection fees by 13 percent.

Maybe sometimes Big Brother does know best?

KEEP PHOENIX NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Monica Alonzo
Contact: Monica Alonzo