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Republic Services briefed the Tualatin City Council on Recycle+ and Residential Organics programs Sept. 26.

PMG FILE PHOTO - If adopted, the residential organics program would allow Tualatin residents to dispose of food waste in their yard debris bins.A pair of new waste management programs from Republic Services may soon arrive in Tualatin.

During a Tualatin City Council work session Monday, Sept. 26, Republic municipal relationships manager KJ Lewis presented details on the Recycle+ and Residential Organics programs — both created as part of Republic's focus on "sustainability in action."

The Recycle+ program would be offered on an opt-in/opt-out basis, while the residential organics service is a citywide initiative requiring an estimated rate increase of between 60 and 75 cents per customer.

The council expressed general interest in both programs and asked city staff to gather more information. A final decision isn't expected until November.

More items to recycle?

The Recycle+ program was approved by the Washington County Board of Commissioners in April for use in unincorporated areas.

With a new curbside bin, participating residents can have previously non-recyclable items — including plastic film and bags, compact florescent lights and textiles like clothes, sheets and towels — picked up curbside and recycled from their homes. Each category of items must be placed in a plastic bag before being put in the bin, and those plastic bags are also recycled when the bins arrive at their destination.

"For Recycle+, there is a base charge and two opportunities for pickups monthly," Lewis said during the Sept. 26 work session. "The customer calls and a driver is sent out."

The charges would likely be similar to those in unincorporated Washington County: $2.50 per month as a base rate and $9.25 for each curbside pickup.

"Customers can cancel Recycle+ service at any time; no continuing subscription is required," a city staff report read. "For customers who do not want to subscribe to Recycle+, dropping these materials off at a recycling depot remains a no-cost recycling option for all community members."

Cutting down on food waste

Republic's residential organics program (also known as curbside composting) has already been rolled out in nearby cities like Lake Oswego and Wilsonville.

If adopted, it would allow Tualatin residents to dispose of food waste in their yard debris bins — thus ensuring that the scraps are composted rather than being sent to a landfill (where they release the methane gas that contributes to climate change).

An estimated rate increase of between 65 and 75 cents would be applied to all customers who use yard debris bins that are 35 gallons or larger, according to the city staff report.

"People could personally choose not to put things in the bin, but everyone would be charged," Lewis said.

Acceptable items for the bins would include all food, coffee grounds, pizza boxes and "a limited number of food-stained paper products."

The city staff report identified a number of possible concerns surrounding the program, including smells from the bins and the attraction of pests. However, the report added that weekly pickups would likely minimize such occurrences.

Heading into the more in-depth discussions of the programs in November, the council expressed interest in learning more about costs — particularly as Metro works to finalize solid waste fee increases this fall — as well as the possibility of offering organics collection to multi-family housing properties rather than just single-family homes.

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