Phoenix testing new green pilot program - Ahwatukee Foothills News: Community Focus

Phoenix testing new green pilot program

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Posted: Wednesday, May 22, 2013 10:24 am | Updated: 3:40 pm, Thu Aug 1, 2013.

The city of Phoenix is looking for more residents to sign up for a pilot program that will help keep less green organic materials out of landfills and could save the city money.

“We have a lot of green waste that goes into the landfill and we’re trying to save landfill space,” said Jeff Whitlock, environmental specialist for the Green Environmental Project. “Mayor Stanton set a goal for increasing the city’s recycling so we came up with this green organics recycling.”

The Green Organic Recycling program provides homeowners with a tan bin, separate from the black bin or blue bin. The tan bin is for organic materials only like grass clippings, leaves, twigs, tree trimmings or even horse waste. The materials thrown in the tan bins will be collected separately and turned into mulch, which can then be used in city parks.

Whitlock said when green organic materials go into a landfill it decomposes without oxygen, therefore producing methane. The city must maintain the methane and therefore it’s a greater cost for the city. The materials also take up space in the landfill.

The city is testing the program now with a pilot program that began in February. Areas where residents have more than one bin or high vegetation are being targeted first. There are some of these areas in Ahwatukee Foothills. The city is hoping to have 1,000 homeowners using the tan bins by the end of the year.

Because the program saves the city transportation costs and landfill costs, the city is able to offer the tan bins at a monthly cost of $8. An extra black bin would cost a homeowner $13.40.

Other large cities in the Valley have similar programs that have become increasingly popular. Whitlock said it’s because of Stanton’s goals that Phoenix decided to get on board.

“There’s a ton of green organics that just goes into the landfill,” he said. “It’s all reusable and recyclable material. I think that was the largest commodity we could go after to reduce waste.”

The program is growing slowly because for now the city does not have the infrastructure to grow it quickly. The city currently has one truck collecting five days a week. That one truck collects anywhere from one ton to 10 tons of material per route.

The only organic materials the city does not want are oleanders, because of the poisonous material in the sap and large palm fronds because their fiber material gets stuck in the mulch machine.

The city also asks for no garbage bags to be used in the tan bins.

Homeowners who would like to take part in the program can call (602) 262-7251 to see if their neighborhood is part of the pilot program or to request for the pilot program to come to their neighborhood.

• Contact writer: (480) 898-7914 or ahurtado@ahwatukee.com.

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