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Huntington residents favor curbside recycling program

August 10, 2018

HUNTINGTON — A pilot program for curbside recycling in Huntington could be rolled out as early as this fall, following months of data analysis by researchers at Marshall University.

While there are still details for the city to work out, Bryan Chambers, the city’s communications director, said the feedback they have received from the residents was overwhelmingly in favor of a recycling program in Huntington.

In February, through a partnership with Marshall University, the city Public Works Department released a survey about recycling that focused on residents’ recycling habits and preferences, as well as their willingness to pay for the service.

The recycling survey and the analysis are part of a project hosted by the Community Research and Teaching Experiences (CORTEX) Center at Marshall. The center was the brainchild of mathematics professor Michael Schroeder and political science professor Damien Arthur.

The intent of the survey was not only to determine interest in a citywide recycling program but also pinpoint the

areas that would be most willing to take part in the pilot program.

Of the roughly 17,000 households in Huntington that have municipal garbage service, the city received 2,556 responses, or roughly 15 percent of Huntington’s customer base, Chambers said.

He added that based on the survey, a few things were made clear — Huntington residents want recycling, and the majority prefer curbside and would be willing to pay for it.

According to the data, over 82.2 percent of the respondents either strongly agreed or agreed that they want to recycle.

“Clearly people want recycling,” Chambers said.

Those who responded also indicated that curbside pickup is preferred, with 60 percent favoring curbside and 17.5 percent in favor of a pickup point, similar to what the Cabell County Solid Waste Authority has now.

In regards to paying extra for the service, 34.8 percent said they would not be willing to pay for recycling, 19.7 percent said they would pay $1, 28 percent said they would pay $2 and 13.6 percent said they would pay $5 or more.

The survey also asked residents whether they would prefer bins or bags (47.1 percent said bins and 17.5 percent said bags) and the preferred frequency for pickup (44.1 percent said weekly and 17.5 percent said biweekly).

Chambers said the survey also pinpointed the three districts that responded the most favorably to recycling.

Chambers said more than 88 percent of respondents in Districts 3, 4 and 6 were in favor of recycling. Due to the high number, Chambers said the pilot program will be implemented in those districts, hopefully by the fall.

He added that they will likely test in one area of the three districts and move to another area.

District 3 encompasses downtown Huntington. District 4 includes most of the Southside west of 8th Street, Harveytown and parts of the South Hills area above Ritter Park. District 6 is the largest geographically and stretches from the Southside to the city’s eastern boundary on Norway Avenue.

The districts that showed the least amount of favor for a recycling program were 1, 2 and 9. Even though they were the lowest, Chambers said over 70 percent of respondents in those areas were in favor of recycling.

Chambers said he has been told by Public Works Director Jim Insco that his department does have the manpower and equipment necessary to implement the pilot program; however, he added that there are things to work out before the program can be given the green light.

Chambers said they still need to find a company willing to process their recyclables, as well as determine the cost and a funding source to purchase bins or bags.

Regardless of how the city chooses to proceed, according to state statute, Huntington is required to have a recycling program.

According to state code, Huntington — and any other city with more than 10,000 residents — is required to have a curbside recycling program. The law has been on the books since the early 1990s, but there is no penalty for cities that don’t comply.

The city of Huntington defended its lack of compliance with state statute in a statement Thursday: “Unfunded mandates by the state are not the most effective way to address issues at the municipal level. Recycling is not a revenue-making program for local government. This was demonstrated in the 1990s when the City of Huntington piloted a curbside recycling program, only to discontinue the program when it was determined to be unsustainable without a dedicated source of revenue. The market value of recycling materials continues to decline. A defined revenue source will be needed to sustain the program long-term. We are committed to implementing a pilot curbside recycling program with hopes that it will be implemented citywide.”

As Huntington works to implement its pilot recycling program, countywide efforts are also being made toward recycling.

Despite another rejection from the Cabell County Commission for a recycling levy to fund the Cabell County Solid Waste Authority’s recycling program, county officials have indicated that recycling is important to its citizens.

Chambers said the city would be more than willing to work with commissioners and officials with the Solid Waste Authority on any program that would benefit its residents.

“The city of Huntington has always operated on the premise of developing strong partnerships on any issue,” Chambers said. ”... For us, when it comes to recycling, we know what our residents want, and they want curbside recycling. We’re willing to explore any avenue to get to that point.”

“For us, when it comes to recycling, we know what our residents want, and they want curbside recycling. We’re willing to explore any avenue to get to that point.”

Bryan Chambers

communications director for the city of Huntington

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