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Businesses examine recycling options as city changes program

By By MELISSA CROWE - MCROWE@VICAD.COM
Jan. 6, 2012 at 4:02 p.m.
Updated Jan. 6, 2012 at 7:07 p.m.

Duke Tomlinson dumps newspapers into a bin Saturday afternoon at Huvar's Recycling Facility. The center, which is used by many businesses, renters and county residents, will close Feb. 4 as the city switches to a curbside recycling program.

What's next

Last day to drop off recyclables at Huvar: Feb. 4.Curbside recycling starts: Feb. 6.Residents may drop off recyclables at the Waste Management facility, 809 George St., on Saturdays. A water bill is required as proof of residency. Businesses may drop off recyclables at the same facility starting in late-February for a fee.

Victoria resident Helen Gonzales has always been a supporter of recycling.

She learned about the practice in high school and after encouraging friends, colleagues and family members to pitch in, has taken it upon herself to drop off others' paper scraps and plastic trash to the Huvar Recycling Facility.

It is a practice she is proud of.

"If you throw something away, it is no longer useful. It ends up in landfill, incinerated or in some other way contaminating the environment," she said. "If you recycle something, it can be recovered and become material for a new product, plus it does not go to into the waste stream."

However, as the city transitions to curbside service and closes the Huvar Recycling Facility she frequently visited, she worries about the waste accumulations of businesses, renters and rural residents.

She is conflicted.

"It doesn't make any sense," she said of the Huvar closure. "It'd be one thing if they left the center open for the businesses."

Whether they were allowed to use it, businesses were a large supporter of the Huvar facility, she said.

Darryl Lesak, assistant director of Environmental Services, said there will not be a need for a city-owned facility now that collected recyclables will go to a collection and transfer station opened by Waste Management, Inc., a privately owned company based in Houston.

"Keeping in mind that it was meant for residential customers," he said of the Huvar center. Now that we're providing an at-your-curb pick up service ... we don't feel that there's a need to keep the recycling center open."

While Huvar was intended for residential customers, Lesak said, anyone could bring their recyclables without proof of residency.

"The different between how it was before and how it is now is before it was free," Lesak said. "Anybody brought stuff to us, we took it and it was no charge."

All that is about to change.

Lisa Doughty, Waste Management community affairs manager, said the new transfer station, which has not been officially named, is slated to open concurrently with Huvar's Feb. 4 closure.

It will be a collection and transfer station at 809 George St., where the city will bring its recycling to be taken to Waste Management's new single-stream processing facility in Houston.

Residential customers will be allowed to drop off recycling at the new facility on Saturdays for free, but must provide a current water bill.

The same service is anticipated to begin for commercial customers in late February, she said. Commercial businesses will have the opportunity to purchase service for recycling, a service that was not available in the past, she said. It was not immediately clear what the cost would be.

"We are not committing to a specific date because we want to work out all the kinks to make sure it runs smoothly," she said of the expansion. "That is where they're heading: expanding this to commercial recycling."

In the meantime, Gonzales, a Texas Department of Assistive & Rehabilitative Services employee, is trying to create a contingency plan to deal with the closure.

"I could ask for an extra bin and take the recycling home," Gonzales said. "It's important for us to recycle because we care about the earth."

She said she does not want to add to the "waste stream."

"There is a real global problem with too much waste being produced by human beings," Gonzales said. "As a species, we produce so much synthetic waste that we are literally running out of space to bury it or dispose of it in other ways without contaminating the environment."

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