Mandatory curbside recycling was ushered into Coupeville last week to the tune of “yeahs” and clapping from town council members.
After years of working on the proposal with the town’s hauler, Island Disposal, the council voted unanimously to approve a new contract with the firm that includes curbside pickup.
“I’m so excited about this,” Councilwoman Molly Hughes said.
“I’m so happy we got this done,” echoed Councilman Bob Clay, who also serves as mayor pro-tem.
Beginning in 2013, the new contract will make curbside recycling mandatory for all Coupeville residents who live inside town limits, just as trash pick up with the hauler is currently required.
To implement the new service, customers will see a monthly increase on their bills of $7.10.
Customers are billed once every two months, however, so the increase will show up as $14.20.
Also, as a new contract, the cost of regular garbage service will also increase across the board, regardless of the frequency of pick up.
Kent Kovalenko, a district manager for Waste Connections, parent company of Island Disposal, was at the meeting and estimated the increase at about 2.1 percent.
The frequency of trash pick up will still be selected by customers, but curbside recycling will be every other week. Customers will be provided a bin — standard size is 96-gallons — for their recycables.
A variety of plastics, paper products, aluminum and tin cans can be tossed in together. Glass is excluded.
Because sorting is not required, recycling companies have found glass inevitably breaks in the bins and the shards contaminate other products and damage expensive equipment.
That shortcoming has been one of the major obstacles facing curbside programs pitched in recent years.
It helped derail a nearly identical program proposed for Island County in 2012, a program being considered again.
Langley is included in that plan and although the city council voted just this month to endorse the proposal, it was not a unanimous decision due to the glass issue.
No one from the public was at Coupeville’s meeting, but it is a source of concern for some residents.
Sally Fox, who self-hauls her recyclables, said she likes the idea of a curbside program but has reservations about a service that doesn’t accept an item as common and heavy as glass.
She said she worried that she’d end up still making trips to the recycle center, despite the new program.
“If you are going to come, you might as well bring everything else,” she said.
The issue was discussed again last week.
Coupeville Mayor Nancy Conard said the plan is to mitigate the problem with a separate container in town at a yet to be determined location.