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Craighead, MJ firm look toward curbside recycling in Lebanon

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The mayor indicated Tennessee would eventually start requiring cities to divert some of their waste away from landfills. That means recycling products such as paper, plastics, glass and aluminum so that those materials do not end up in conventional landfills, but are picked up by recycling companies like Green Monster.


Mt. Juliet is slowly moving ahead of the curve since Green Monster began picking up recycling materials in the city back in 2007. Tom Stueck, founder of Green Monster, said recycling is not only an environmental issue but an economic issue as well.


(Craighead) does see in the future that the cost of disposing garbage is only going to go up, Stueck said.


The Mt. Juliet company was founded in 2007 and had only 17 customers there. It has since grown to almost 1,200 customers in Wilson County and some in Davidson.


Stueck said the majority of their customers are in Mt. Juliet, where they pick up recyclable materials weekly, providing every home with a 65-gallon bin to toss those items into instead of their conventional trashcan.


The service costs $13.50 per month in Mt. Juliet and $14 per month in Lebanon. Stueck said he currently has 101 customers in Lebanon, compared to around 1,000 in Mt. Juliet.


He said the reasons range from a lack of awareness about the benefits of recycling to people not wanting to pay for the service when they have their trash picked up for free in the city limits.


We get our trash picked up for free, Ive heard that hundreds of times, Stueck said.


Lebanon Commissioner of Public Works Jeff Baines said the city currently does not charge for curbside pick-up, but Craighead pointed out it costs the city about $200,000 each year to dump waste collected into the landfill located in Murfreesboro.


That is just in tipping fees, it doesnt include man-hours, fuel costs and those kinds of things, Craighead noted.


Baines said the cost of picking up trash is absorbed within property taxes and sales taxes received by the city. He said the budget for trash pick-up for fiscal year 2012-2013 is more than $1.3 million.


There is not a fee for this service although it has been discussed in past budget cycles, Baines said.


Stueck said Mt. Juliet has been a strong supporter of recycling items as opposed to dumping them into nearby landfills. He said on Wednesday they pick up materials at approximately half of their Mt. Juliet customers, totaling 3,000 pounds.


Green Monsters 7,000 square foot sorting facility prepares the recyclable materials to be sold to larger operations that put them to use. He said the price for recyclable materials is about 62 cents per pound.


The City of Mt. Juliet is even on board with the recycling effort, as Stueck pointed out the city is a customer of Green Monster, with 12 stops total between the citys offices and departments.


I dont think the citizens of Lebanon have been properly educated on the benefits of recycling, Stueck said.


Craighead and Stueck discussed the possibility of Green Monster operating a Materials Recycling Facility in Lebanon and the citys current trash pick-up service delivering the recyclable materials to the facility.


The mayor said Leslie Alexander of Nashville-based Leslie T. Alexander Consulting is working on a feasibility study for the recycling center proposal. He said they have to know the costs of starting the venture before committing.


Weve talked to Tom, but the problem is you have upstart costs and where are you going to get that money, the mayor said.


Craighead said he hopes to develop a partnership between the city and Green Monster to possibly provide a countywide recycling service. He has to work to change the mindset in Lebanon along the way to garner support for the endeavor.


Hes wanting the city to push its citizens to do better, Stueck said. When it starts costing the citizens to pick up their trash, things will change.


Baines said the Public Works Department would benefit through a recycling partnership with Green Monster by avoiding the costs of expanding its workforce and equipment.


What this would probably do is push off the need to add another truck and manpower for basic sanitation service for a good while, he said, adding that there are 13 full-time employees in the Sanitation Department.


In the meantime, Craighead hopes the feasibility study will show a cost that can be offset by selling recyclable materials and that the presence of a recycling facility will show Lebanon is forward thinking and proactive.


Green Monster Recycling and Disposal is working to expand its Mt. Juliet facilities to meet growing demands in that city, as well as in Old Hickory and Hermitage. Stueck said hes hopeful Lebanon will soon catch up.


Staff Writer Patrick Hall may be contacted at phall@wilsonpost.com.

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