A "vicious cycle" that led to seemingly endless piles of yard debris in Macon-Bibb County is coming to an end, a Macon-Bibb County official said.
Some county leaders say a new garbage and recycling agreement that kicks off in early January will lead to yard waste being collected more frequently as well as expand recycling efforts. The agreement, approved by commissioners Tuesday, means Advanced Disposal Services will take over collecting residential garbage for the entire county. Meanwhile, crews from the Macon-Bibb Solid Waste Department will handle large amounts of yard waste and the recycling effort that will be offered to every county residence.
The change is part of a solid waste plan to eliminate issues such as yard debris piles remaining near the street for a month or more, Solid Waste Director Kevin Barkley said.
On a weekly basis, Advanced Disposal will pick up smaller amounts of yard waste such as grass clippings. Meanwhile, the county also will collect larger piles of yard debris such as limbs on a weekly basis.
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"(Piles of yard debris) never got caught up. It was that vicious cycle -- that pile got bigger and bigger," Barkley said. "We're trying to keep these neighborhoods clean and provide a better level of service on a more frequent basis." The new contract includes a cost increase: from $15 to $20 per month for residents whose garbage is now collected by Macon-Bibb County employees, and from $12.75 to $20 per month for those whose trash currently is picked up by Advanced Disposal. That price increase, along with having Macon-Bibb workers no longer picking up household garbage, drew criticism from some officials.
But for Barkley, the improved efficiency will prove that the changes are worthwhile. The county has purchased two new trucks that will be used to collect yard waste and bulkier items such as old furniture.
"We're going to pick up your branches, limbs, hedge clippings, things that are really hard to containerize," Barkley said. "If you don't have yard waste, you might have a chair or child's toy or a mattress that we might be able to pick up instead."
Commissioner Gary Bechtel said he would get calls from people in his district who were frustrated with how long it took to get yard debris picked up.
"We were short of staff and there were issues with the landfill," Bechtel said. "Now we have a plan to put more people on it. I think we'll resolve these issues pretty quickly."
RECYCLING EFFORTS TO EXPAND
The timeframe of when the county plans to expand recycling to all households depends on how quickly requests for recycling containers come in.
Recycling bins will be distributed as people request them on the Macon-Bibb County website under 'See, Click, Fix' or by calling Macon-Bibb customer service at 751-7400.
The county recently purchased 1,700 65-gallon recycling containers. Among the items that will be recycled are glass containers, plastic containers and bags, paper, aluminium and cardboard. The county will purchase more recycling containers as more people ask for them and as the budget permits.