Environmental well-being and what will be done to ensure it, is a topic that’s sweeping headlines.
The question is not only what can the government do to make positive changes, but what are they willing to do?
In Monday night’s meeting, the City Council made a decision on how Ann Arbor will be proceeding with their recycling program. And while the Council did spend time weighing the pros and cons of each alternative, a theme that continually popped up was the need to make a decision, move forward with it and start making a change. The Council members agreed that the time to simply discuss was over; it’s time to take action.
The Council needed to choose whether or not to approve the services agreement with Recycle Ann Arbor or with Waste Management. The question each of them needed to answer before voting: Is the projected reduction in greenhouse gases worth paying the premium?
— On April 17, the City Council asked Recycle Ann Arbor (RAA) to consider a hybrid program of loose loading recycling and baling for commercial cardboard. On April 28, Recycle Ann Arbor stated it will not be starting with both programs, but with loose loading only, assuming this method achieves desired results.
— The cost of this program was noted by Councilman Smith as $873,909,24 to $1,135,114.44 in the first year.
— The RAA method will produce less than 10 percent residual material compared to 11.06 percent by Waste Management. They arrived at this number by using an EPA tool that takes into account materials used, the process for recycling and greenhouse gases produced in the process.
— RAA staff will complete three Composition Audits per year to ensure they are meeting their projection of less than 10 percent. They will share the results of these audits with the City Council and give them ample warning if the loose loading only program is not producing the results desired in order to prepare the council for the potential to switch programs.
There wasn’t a dissenting voice on the council when it came to the question of the value of recycling for Ann Arbor community.
Mayor Taylor commented he is, “Dissatisfied with where we are with this service [recycling].”
He emphasized the need and desire for Ann Arbor to become a leader in this area once again.
Along with stressing the importance of coming to a resolution on a matter that’s been debated for months now, Council members accentuated the benefits of choosing local, RAA versus Waste Management.
Councilwoman Grand stated that a local company breeds greater trust. She went on to express that yes, it will cost more, but community members will know the materials are actually being recycled.
There has been concern on this topic from council members regarding the risk of making the switch and whether or not switching to a local company is worth the investment. Councilman Ackerman highlighted the value of a local partner.
“When assessing the risk for the long-term, the partner that you know will be the best,” he said.
He went on to state that RAA has been a community partner in Ann Arbor since 1977. City Council approved the Services Agreement with Recycle Ann Arbor. Now, they are looking forward to how they will continue to make positive strides for the environment in the long term.
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