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Verona moves toward residential recycling plan

| Wednesday, March 26, 2014, 12:26 a.m.

Verona Council is one step closer to bringing residential recycling to the borough.

Council opened bids on Tuesday night from two companies offering recycling services combined with waste hauling.

According to officials, the push for recycling began about two years ago when a group of residents organized and approached council.

Since then, Verona has received $15,000 worth of technical support from state agencies, like the Department of Environmental Protection.

Council is expected to vote April 8 on whether to go with recycling and, if so, which company to use.

Vogel Disposal and Waste Management submitted bids for recycling combined with waste hauling. Each company included two options, slightly varying in price.

Mars-based Vogel's bids included a $1.6 million, five-year plan with a second option that was $6,600 more.

The main difference between the two options, according to Michelle Nestor of Nestor Resources, Inc., was that the more costly choice offered residents a choice of recycling carts. The other option would provide each home with 96-gallon carts.

Nestor is a consultant working with the borough through the technical assistance programs.

Verona residents pay about $15 per quarter to Waste Management just to collect garbage.

When broken down to a quarterly fee, Vogel would charge about $22 per quarter for either option, which would include recycling and waste hauling.

Waste Management, which provides garbage hauling to Verona, submitted a bid with two options. One totaled about $1.1 million and the other projected to be about $10,000 less.

When broken down quarterly, either plan would cost residents about $17 — $2 more than they pay now.

Nestor told council she will discuss the proposals, each about 3 inches thick, with them in detail.

Both proposals call for collecting recyclables in a single bin, rather than sorting material into separates bins.

If Verona goes with recycling, Nestor said, the new contract would start in June and recycling would begin in September.

Over the summer, the selected company would work to educate the community and help residents transition.

From Nestor's point of view, the route to recycling in Verona is a somewhat unique one, since it began with a request from the community, rather than from municipal officials or mandates.

“I think it's interesting that the demand came from the residents up,” she said. “They have been persistent with council and working with the community.”

She said that Verona is one of the few municipalities left in its immediate area that does not offer recycling. Examples of neighbors that do, she said, are New Kensington, Oakmont and Blawnox.

When some Verona residents pushed for recycling, Councilwoman Sandi Drabicki-Bell helped them form a committee.

Since the effort began, she said, officials asked Waste Management to set up a couple of recycling bins near the borough building.

Over the past two years, Waste Management has had to increase its pickup at the bins from once a month to twice a week.

“People are using it, so I think we're moving in the right direction,” she said. “This is a continuation. We've been learning about this for two years.”

Julie E. Martin is a freelance writer.

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