San Marcos to downsize trash bins to reduce landfill usage

By: 

News Reporter

San Marcos will trade residential customers’ 96-gallon trash carts for 65-gallon units beginning Oct. 1 in order to decrease the amount of garbage flowing to landfills.

The goal with the cart downsize is to divert as much trash as possible from going into landfills. The nearest landfill will close November 2015, said Amy Kirwin, solid waste program coordinator for the city. To continue using the 96-gallon trash cart, residents must pay a $3 increase in the monthly trash fee, according to the city’s website.

The city’s landfill provider will begin raising its fee, something that has not been done since 2009, Kirwin said. The city will have to divert trash to other nearby landfills when the San Marcos location closes in 2015. 

“The majority of what you’re paying for is landfill airspace, so the more trash you’re putting into the landfill, the more you have to pay,” Kirwin said. “We have a finite number of resources, and when you recycle, you’re reusing materials.”

During the last fiscal year, the total tonnage of waste in San Marcos was 1,805 tons of recycling and 6,288 tons of trash, Kirwin said.

This change may be a disadvantage to large or low-income families who will now have to pay attention to what they are throwing away, Kirwin said. However, taking the time to see how much is being sent to the landfill may help the city’s problem.

“This change was more of a positive incentive for people who are recycling and diverting from the landfill,” Kirwin said. “People are becoming more mindful of what they’re purchasing.”

Green Guy Recycling will remain available to collect motor oil, tires, appliances, styrofoam peanuts and electronics separately from what is put into the single-stream recycling, said Kyle Hahn, owner of the business. There is not a specific landfill for San Marcos or Hays County, so the trash will affect other counties around San Marcos

Michelle Lombardo, San Marcos resident, said she recycles regularly and thinks the change is good for the city.

“Recycling is kind of voluntary here,” Lombardo said. “I feel like it should be mandatory for businesses to recycle, and I hope that businesses will offer more recyclable materials. If the businesses do it, then it would force the public even more to do it.”

Green Guy Recycling is open 24 hours a day as a recycling drop-off center as part of a contract with the city, Hahn said.

The company collects recycling at all of the city’s offices and from special events such as Sights and Sounds of Christmas and movie showings in the park, he said.

“We kind of act as a supplemental program to the city, so we do a lot of things,” Hahn said. “The reason they still have a contract with us, even though there’s curb-side recycling, is we get a lot of materials that you can’t feasibly or logistically take to the curb side.”

Hahn said with this change, he is hoping more people will use Green Guy’s facility to drop off bigger objects and pay more attention to what is thrown away.

“I think that the idea is ultimately getting people to throw away what really is unrecyclable trash and look at recyclable items as a resource,” Hahn said.