The Forbidding Cost of a Landfill
When he addressed the City in February, Mayor Michael B. Coleman announced that Columbus will develop a comprehensive curbside recycling program for single families by 2012.
After years of having one of the worst recycling rates in the nation, the city faces the impending need for a new landfill.
How much does a landfill cost? $93 million to build today. $175 million to build 20 years from now.
Currently, residents who want curbside recycling must pay Rumpke, one of the nation's largest privately owned waste and recycling company, to collect the bins once a week. So a majority of Columbus residents choose not to pay for the service.
It's understandable that consumers are dissatisfied with having to pay for recycling because they have already paid to purchase the products they use. It seems unfair to have to pay twice in order to consumer a product. But it's become clear that not recycling will cost even more.
If Columbus diverts just 35 percent of its waste from the landfill, the city could save more than $5 million in landfill costs.
Recycling isn't comprehensive because the Solid Waste Authority of Central Ohio (SWACO) has set its revenue sources poorly. Being a political subdivision of the state and responsible for implementing a comprehensive solid waste management plan for its districts, revenue comes from tipping fees at the landfill, which means that when less goes into the landfill, SWACO receives less revenue. It's in SWACO's interest that as few people recycle as possible. So, without a change in revenue sources, politics will make it difficult for the mayor to begin a first-rate recycling plan.
To keep down the cost of recycling for the city, the mayor proposed combining recycling and yard waste collection on a rotating schedule. He has instituted a community process to gather public input that will result in a decision this October before the plan will be finalized.Continued on the next page