COLUMBIA — Columbia’s Environment and Energy Commission is considering creating a subcommittee to spread the word about the city’s commercial recycling program. Businesses expressed concern about recycling options at an informal lunch held May 6 for safety and environmental coordinators from local industrial companies.
According to commission member Ted Dyer, industrial businesses expressed dissatisfaction with their current private recycling services and were not aware of the city’s commercial recycling pick-up service.
Columbia introduced recycling services for commercial businesses in September 2003. There are currently 120 accounts, and of those, only 20 percent are located in the industrial community.
“We’ve had a lot of people tell me they didn’t know the city did commercial recycling,” said Layli Terrill, waste minimization supervisor of Columbia’s commercial recycling program.
Attracting customers has been difficult because the only comparable private recycler in Columbia, Civic Recycling, had already been in business more than 20 years when the city’s program started, Terrill said.
“It has been difficult getting into the recycling game,” she said.
Civic Recycling has at least 500 accounts, including MU and Columbia Public Schools, said Tracey Sims, secretary treasurer of the company. The company has a general pick-up radius of 60 miles, although owner Brett Allen said sometimes they go farther to pick up larger volumes of recycling.
“Whatever they want, we take care of it, within reason,” Allen said.
For example, Allen said he is looking into accepting Styrofoam and melting down the material into blocks in order to sell it to other companies. Currently, the city’s program does not plan on incorporating Styrofoam.
“I’ve been in the business for 28 years, so I’ve got the resources to know where to take things,” Allen said.
A city ordinance prevents Allen and others like him from collecting recycling from residential areas, limiting him to the commercial sector. Allen said he was disappointed when city officials told him they would be competing with him.
“It definitely affects my business,” Allen said.
Gates Corporation uses Civic Recycling for cans, bottles, paper and plastic bags and Daniel’s Recycling located in Boonville to recycle wooden pallets and cardboard, said Roxanne Lambert, health, safety and environmental coordinator for the corporation.
Dyer said that many coordinators explained similar situations at the meeting. Through the city, businesses would be able to have one vender collecting both recycling and other refuse.
“(I believe) as a commissioner that there are some things the city can do that some private sectors can’t do,” Dyer said.
The commission hopes to have a plan of action for the subcommittee within the next 60 days, Dyer said. He said the best method of delivering the message to industrial companies is to speak at manufacturing safety meetings through “direct one-on-one contact.”
“We have an obligation to respond to requests for information about current city services,” Dyer said.