To the Editor:

As Athens City Council prepares to vote on a new solid waste collection and processing contract, it’s important to keep concerns about price increases in perspective.

In analyzing more than 25 municipalities across our region, I’ve found that Athens has the lowest cost of trash and recycling collection. That will remain true even if City Council approves the increased costs in the new contract.

This is comparing apples to apples — trash collection across municipalities. When recycling and composting are included, Athens continues to be among the least expensive while offering the most services. In fact, most of the municipalities do not offer curbside recycling, and no one offers citywide composting except for Bexley, Ohio.

Athens residents haven’t seen a price increase for their trash service since 2010. My monthly bill, which is based on one 30-gallon can for trash and unlimited recycling, has been $6.50 and $3.50 per month respectively, totaling $10. This is what over a quarter of Athens households pay.

Athens households with two trash cans and recycling pay $15.50 per month. This represents two-thirds of households. This rate is still cheaper than the cost of combined trash and recycling services at the municipalities in my comparison, and trash, recycling, and compost services combined would be cheaper than trash collection alone in many of the areas that offer only that option.

Here’s why the inclusion of citywide composting is important as we consider the new contract.

● It’s a great deal. The COVID-19 pandemic has been devastating, and it’s understandable that some people are reluctant to do anything that creates new costs now. But I’d argue this increase is inevitable. It’s been a decade since prices increased, and our rates are by far the lowest in the region. They will remain the lowest in the region for trash collection after the increase, and when recycling and composting are added, it’s an even better deal.

● It is good for the planet. Recycling and composting are critical as we strive to reduce our impact on the environment. We made tremendous strides when we started offering citywide curbside recycling. Composting is the next step we need to take toward becoming “zero waste.”

As I was comparing municipalities, one thing became instantly apparent: Athens is a clear leader in the move toward “zero waste,” and this is happening in a fiscally responsible way that still produces lower-cost services than many areas offering only trash pickup.

Call or write City Council now to tell them you support the new solid waste and processing contract, and that you want citywide composting. Let’s continue being a Zero Waste leader in the region.

Sincerely,

Ed Newman

Zero Waste Program Director

Rural Action

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