By Betsy Dolan
A planned rate increase next year for solid waste collection has been avoided due to collection efficiencies and increased recycling throughout the city.
Since Sugar Land implemented a new solid waste and recycling program in December, 1,013 pounds of waste is being recycled every month with each household averaging 80 pounds per month. In addition, 31 percent of waste has been diverted from landfills which is up from 10 percent over the previous program.
“We’re seeing a 210 percent increase in recycling since we started the program,” said Dawn Steph, Sugar Land’s Environmental Manager, during the City Council meeting on August 21. “The residents are really responding to this.”
Several city council members remarked how the transition to the new program initially generated numerous complaints but Mayor James Thompson said that he is now hearing “very positive comments especially from those people who were the most vocal back when the new program was getting started.” Council member Harish Jajoo wanted clarification on the complaint protocol from Steph who acknowledged some initial rocky moments but says the complaint calls are “now decreasing.”
As part of the contract with Republic Services, Sugar Land residents were due to see a 3.2 percent increase in their fees this year, which would have averaged an extra $0.50 per month per household. But Republic says they opted not to implement that increase because the company was able to streamline their routes and pass the savings along to the residents.
“As a further value to the communities we serve, we are in the process of converting our fleet to clean-burning compressed natural gas. This is just one more way that demonstrates our commitment to being good neighbors,” said Todd Fawcett with Republic Services.
Sugar Land’s curbside recycling program was expanded last year to include all colors of glass bottles and jars. The addition of a green waste program ensures all green waste — grass clippings, leaves, brush, tree limbs, etc. — will be recycled rather than sent to a landfill. The city is recycling an average of 500 tons of green waste every month.
Residents currently receive automated recycling collection once per week utilizing a city-issued 65-gallon recycling cart. Green waste collection is also provided weekly. Green waste materials such as grass clippings and leaves should be placed in a reusable container or in tied bags; compostable bags are not required.