Pflugerville recycling gains momentum – Austin American

February 13, 2012 by  
Filed under Wind Energy Tips


By Marques G. Harper

AMERICAN-STATESMAN STAFF


Published: 6:45 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 12, 2012

— What’s between a rock and a weird place? If Pflugerville officials have their way, the growing city between Round Rock and Austin wants to position itself as the green spot.

In recent years, the fast-growing suburb has been pushing several environmental initiatives, such as a solar-energy farm, solar panels on the water plant and recreation center, a solar trash compactor and wind turbine at Lake Pflugerville, and the under-construction Renewable Energy Park, with its electric car-charging station.

Meanwhile, residential recycling efforts are picking up here since the city beefed up its program in 2009, city officials say.

Pflugerville residents sent 1,356 tons to a landfill in December, a 12 percent decline from December 2010, while sending 321 tons to be recycled, a 10 percent increase from December the year before, Pflugerville spokeswoman Terri Waggoner said.

In 2009, city officials introduced 95-gallon bins for recyclables that are picked up every two weeks. Like the City of Austin’s program, residents may put a wide range of items into the bins unsorted. In addition, Pflugerville changed trash pickup from twice a week to once a week to further encourage recycling.

“Council said, ‘Take some of the trucks off the road to lessen carbon footprint,’” said Gerry Rieger, division manager for Progressive Waste Solutions, which handles trash and recycling in Pflugerville.

He said the increase in recycling has been noticeable.

“We get a lot of newsprint,” said Rieger, who recently spoke to the City Council about the recycling program. “We get a lot of newsprints out of Pflugerville, which tells us they are reading.”

Waggoner said Pflugerville paid Progressive Waste Solutions $2.9 million last year. Unlike the City of Austin, Pflugerville doesn’t share profits from sales of the recyclables. The contract is based on the number of residences in the city and surrounding areas that the company serves.

“We had some people who didn’t want the bins,” Rieger said. “We’ve had some of those but not very many. I can see there being a time when the demand will be there to pick up more recyclables than trash.”

Rieger said Progressive Waste Solutions is working on new programs for area schools to inform students about the virtues of recycling.

City officials are also working on how to reach out to the city’s biggest residential recycling holdouts and get them on board with the city’s new green focus, Waggoner said.

The city also wants to encourage more residents to “pre-cycle,” meaning residents would aim to reduce their overall waste.

The city has posted tips on its website and in the city newsletter about “pre-cycling,” Waggoner said.

mharper@statesman.com; 445-3974

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