Kennesaw to continue recycling program despite price hike

Brick Kennesaw government building with four tall wooden columnsKennesaw government complex (photo by Larry Felton Johnson)

By Rebecca Gaunt

Kennesaw City Council scrapped the idea to drop curbside recycling Tuesday, despite rising costs of sanitation services.

The monthly household cost to have Republic Services pick up trash, green waste, and household recycling will rise to $32.50. Republic will also continue to pick up the glass recycling from the Moon Station Road dropoff.

The current household cost is $22 per month.

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Due to the rising prices, the city put out a request for proposals this year. Three companies showed interest, but ultimately, BFI Waste Services, operating as Republic, was the only one to submit a bid.

City residents were facing higher bills with or without recycling. Had the city discontinued the program, the monthly fee still would have risen to $26. BFI is charging an additional $5.75 monthly per household to continue curbside recycling regardless of participation. Individuals cannot opt in or out for a different price.

Mayor Derek Easterling said landfill costs were a significant factor in driving up costs.

At last week’s work session, Public Works Director Ricky Stewart, recommended ending recycling due to the added expense. However, supporters of the program have been very vocal about keeping it.

At the work session, council member Pat Ferris requested Stewart look into how many households actively recycle. Since every customer is provided with a recycling can, Stewart was unable to provide a number. According to Stewart, Republic does not keep data on how many homes use the recycling bin either.

Stewart researched national averages and did some comparisons based on weight to what is collected in Kennesaw.

He estimated 31.5% of city residents recycle based on the fact that Kennesaw recovers 144 tons of material monthly. Stewart compared national data indicating that a city this size should collect 600 tons on average. 

“I think I heard from all 3,000 people that use the recycling this weekend,” Councilwoman Tracey Viars said.

Both council member Antonio Jones and Easterling noted observing more than a third of homes putting recycling cans on the curb.

Viars raised the concern that by ending the recycling program, some residents will now have more trash and need an extra bin. 

Currently the city charges $4 per month for an extra can, but according to Stewart, the new contract with BFI charges $18.56.

“What? Per can?” a bewildered Jones responded.

Ferris, echoing his frustration, said, “No. Seriously?”

Easterling also pointed out that an increase in the weight taken to the landfill could incur additional costs as well.

Last year, the city of Kennesaw made about $500,000 in profit from Republic, which went into the general fund. Similar earnings are expected this year, according to a discussion between Stewart and Jones.

The new contract begins Oct. 1. Updated prices will be reflected in the November bill.

The full discussion can be viewed on the City of Kennesaw Facebook page at the 1:04:15 mark of the Sep. 6 meeting.

Rebecca Gaunt earned a degree in journalism from the University of Georgia and a master’s degree in education from Oglethorpe University. After teaching elementary school for several years, she returned to writing. She lives in Marietta with her husband, son, two cats, and a dog. In her spare time, she loves to read, binge Netflix and travel.

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