Updated: Tuesday, 07 Apr 2009, 6:51 PM CDT
Published : Tuesday, 07 Apr 2009, 6:21 PM CDT
AUSTIN (KXAN) - The City of Austin said its new single stream recycling program is not a big "waste" despite a near $900,000 shortfall. The environmental group, Ecology Action of Texas, said the program caused the city to lose that amount after going into effect last fall.
Austin's idea to make recycling easier might be financially troubling, but it met the city's initial goal. Putting everything in just one bin meant Austinites recycled 41 percent more of their trash instead of throwing it in landfills.
However, the city does not have the special type of recycling plant needed to process the waste, so it used a private company to truck recyclables out of town. Ecology Action activists said hauling it as faraway as 200 miles in Garland, at times, is the reason for the big loss in a time when Austin faces a big budget crunch.
The city expected to make nearly $2 million annually on the two-year contract, but the transportation costs and a very poor global market for recycled goods changed all that. The city said its contract with the company is a temporary solution. Now, the activists are urging city leaders to reconsider that contract.
"We don't want to have a long term contract," said Austin Assistant City Manager Robert Good. "We want our own recycling materials processed here. We're not ready for that in our community, so we had to do a short term contract."
"There are several other companies in Austin who expressed interest in coming up with public/private partnerships to get this program going to make sure this recycling happens," said Ecology Action of Texas Organizer Joaquin Mariel. "Those avenues were never explored."
The city said a recycling solution is on the fast track, but it wants to choose the best solution between public, private or a mix for building a local recycling plant. That report is out in June.