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Staff file photo / A dump truck leaves the city of Chattanooga and C&D landfill complex in Harrison in 2016. East Ridge City Councilman Jacky Cagle suggested East Ridge, which contracts with the same waste disposal service as Chattanooga, start taking its recyclables to the landfill.

Participation in curbside recycling is increasing in East Ridge, and so is the cost. Councilman Jacky Cagle recently suggested the city start taking its recyclables to the landfill.

City Manager Chris Dorsey brought up the cost of recycling at the council's Aug. 26 meeting, when the council voted for the city to enter into an agreement with Chattanooga Transfer for waste disposal services, which does not include recycling.

For the first year of a waste disposal contract that started Sept. 1, Chattanooga Transfer is charging the city $31.25 per ton of solid waste, Dorsey said.

As an aside, he said, the cost is less than the $35 per ton the city pays to process its recyclables.

Dorsey said the city was not charged for the processing of its recyclables until last year. At one time the city was even paid for its recyclables, Mayor Brian Williams said.

Robert Parker, Sanitation Department supervisor, said the city is collecting a growing amount of recyclables and will soon need to add more recycling routes and employees to cover those routes.

"Recycling is increasing, and it's increasing, and it's increasing," Parker said. "We're almost where we can't handle it in two days."

He said purchasing more recycling bins, which are $60 each, is an additional expense the city will need to cover.

Cagle asked Parker if the recyclables could be taken to the landfill, and if the cost would still be $31.25 per ton if the recyclables were mixed in with the garbage.

"Instead of me having two cans out there, and my wife carrying the recycle out there and she's carrying the garbage out there, [can we] just carry them out there and throw them in one garbage can and we don't have to fool with it," Cagle said, adding that the green recycling bins residents have now could be painted blue and used as garbage cans.

Parker said Cagle could choose to put his recyclables into his garbage.

"I think it's everyone's choice if they decide to put all their recycling and other garbage in the garbage, but the right thing to do is try to recycle and preserve and be green when possible," Williams said. "I know it's going to cost us more, but it's the right thing to do for the Earth in my opinion."

Since the solid waste disposal contract under discussion did not involve recycling, Williams said Cagle's suggestions could be addressed when the city's recycling contract is due for renewal.

Contact Emily Crisman at ecrisman@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6508.

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