More than a month of success with a “warm-up” program has prompted a new recycling company to seek permission to expand services to all Tahlequah residents who want it.
Josh Hutchins, president of Tahlequah Recycling Inc., said this week that the new curbside recycling program - which includes 50 customers on the pilot run - has been “very successful.”
“We want Tahlequah to have the highest diversion rate in the entire state by the end of the year,” said Hutchins. “[We] have the capacity for an unlimited amount. We’re hauling only on Saturdays, until we get permission to haul during the week from the city council.”
Hutchins’ father, Dale, has been handling the collection while Hutchins is out of state. As of Tuesday, .214 percent of the city’s waste was being diverted through the program, he said.
“No other city in Oklahoma has co-mingled, curbside recycling available every week - only Tahlequah,” said Hutchins.
He said the company officials will approach the city council during its meeting Tuesday, July 6, about allowing the program’s expansion. If approval is granted, the expanded service may begin by late August.
“We will also begin collecting on regular trash-service days,” he said. “In fact, we are scheduling deliveries of all-new, 48-gallon containers for the middle of August. Those on the pilot program will be getting an upgrade from their current can, to the 48-gallon can as well.”
TRI is taking sign-ups from those who live in the city limits, and Hutchins is encouraging customers and supporters to spread the word. Cost is $12 per month for residential customers, which includes a container delivered to participants’ doors.
“Fill it with all your clean recyclables, and we’ll empty it every week,” said Hutchins. “So far, we’ve hauled about 2 tons of recyclable material to our sorting facility. We aren’t a large corporation from outside the state, looking to only make a profit. We aren’t selling the material we collect to large distributors or crossing state lines. What we do is simple: We remove valuable material from the waste stream and make it an asset, not a liability.”
The company officials sort that material and sell it to local recyclers, routing it away from a landfill.
Hutchins said family members are driving the truck and delivering the containers for the family-owned company, while he works on his move back to Oklahoma from Seattle.
“We will be fully moved back to Oklahoma by the end of July,” he said. “We’re pretty excited to really get recycling off the ground in Tahlequah.”
TRI accepts office paper, newspaper, magazines, mail, cardboard, certain plastics, and any metals including tin or aluminum cans.
“There is no separating required,” said Hutchins. “Granted, you still have to separate your recycling from your garbage or yard waste, but you don’t have to keep your recyclables separate from each other.”
He does, however, encourage participates to rinse out their containers before dumping them in the blue bin. That will help keep paper products from becoming contaminated, and keep the bin clean and odor-free.
Hutchins said as other buyers contract with TRI, various other materials may be added to the accepted recycling list, like textiles, insulation, shingles, wood, food and yard waste, and PVC.
Local citizens responding to TRI’s service have been giving it kudos on its Facebook page. The company is also seeking feedback online about what color to paint its recycling truck. “Recycle green” has been the majority recommendation so far, with blue another favorite suggestion.
Many have also posted comments about future expansions to areas outside the city limits - something company officials hope to address in time.
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