Gering recycling program now in 4th year

Gene Peterson with Gering's Department of Environmental Services gives some perspective to the size of cardboard bales they compact for recycling. The bales came in handy as a temporary windbreak after a recent high-winds storm flattened two of he building's overhead doors.

Since 2015, Gering has offered its residents a way to keep recyclable materials out of the landfill through its recycling program.

The program, a joint venture between Gering and Waste Management, offers single-stream recycling. That means residents can put all their recyclable materials into a single blue bin provided by the city. There’s no need to separate them by category, such as paper or plastic.

“Acceptable single-stream recyclables include paper, plastic, aluminum and metal cans, plastic bottles and newspapers,” Darrell Vance with the city’s Department of Environmental Services said. “Plastic bags and glass of any kind isn’t acceptable.”

Currently, there are 67 commercial businesses participating in the program and 380 residential accounts. Recyclables are collected every other week on Wednesday. Accounts located north of Q Street are picked up one week and those south of Q Street are collected the next week.

Vance said, Gering collects about 20 tons of recyclable materials a month. Scottsbluff brings in another 20 tons, Torrington at 14 tons and Waste Management, another 10 tons.

In addition to curbside recycling collection bins provided to residents in the program, two large collection points are located at 18th and U Streets and at Ninth and K Streets.

“Depending on collections, we can ship out a truckload of recyclables every one or two weeks,” Vance said. “We usually bale the cardboard separately before it goes out.”

Recently, cardboard has been included with other recyclable materials because it’s not a profit source for the city at this time. Cardboard is now selling for about $15 a ton, which is less than the cost of handling.

“There was a time when we broke even on cardboard, but we never have on single-stream recycling,” Vance said. “It costs the city $850 for every truckload shipped to the recycler in Denver.”

Vance said the program is offered as a convenience to residents who want to recycle as must waste material as they can. While it’s not a money-making enterprise, the program helps save space at the landfill.

Although it’s not an official part of the recycling program, yard waste and tree limbs are recycled as mulch for use in the city’s parks. Grass is also recycled by Scottsbluff, but it must be placed in the green yard waste bins for collection.

“People still put their grass in the brown trash bins that get hauled to the landfill,” Vance said. “That’s a violation of regulations from the Department of Environment and Energy because grass produces methane which isn’t good in landfills.”

Vance urged the public to be aware the brown bins are for trash only. The green bins are for tree branches and yard waste and the blue bins are for recyclable materials.

The cost of Gering’s recycling service is $4.40 a month, added to monthly utility bills. For more information on getting started, call 308-436-7568.

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Jerry Purvis is a reporter with the Star-Herald. He can be reached at 308-632-9046 or emailed at jpurvis@starherald.com.

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