Two-thirds of more than 1,700 people surveyed want the city’s recycling program to continue and expand, even if it costs a little more, the Casper City Council learned at a work session Tuesday.

Most council members tentatively agreed with the people and will formally consider the matter at future regular council meetings.

“I’m not used to seeing that kind of turnout, if you will, for surveys of any question,” City Manager Carter Napier said during the work session conducted by teleconference.

Earlier this month, the city's solid waste manager Cynthia Langston said the landfill has had to reject 25% of the recycling loads because, for example, contamination happens when people put Styrofoam in the bin for cardboard. The rejected materials are then deposited in the landfill, which means a fourth of residents' recycling efforts are in vain and the city doesn't get the revenue from selling the recylables.

The city, Langston said, also recently built a materials recovery facility at the solid waste facility, 1886 Station Road, which separates commingled recyclables and prepares them for shipment to buyers.

Council members wondered then if recycling was worth it, so they and Napier decided to offer a survey that garnered surprising results.

“It would sure appear that the community has a pretty high regard for recycling and the program,” Napier said. “I’m really happy with that.”

People were given five options, from shutting down the recycling depots around the city and not opening the new materials recovery facility to the preferred option of reopening the currently closed depots and activating the materials recovery facility.

The preferred option would raise the solid waste fees paid in Casper utility bills by $1.70 a month that would offset the cost of removing contaminants from the recyclables and making them more desirable to buy.

Mills, Evansville and Bar Nunn have their own recycling depots, but the City of Casper pays for picking up their recycled materials, Langston said.

If the other municipalities paid for Casper’s recycling pickup service, Casper residents' rate  increase would be 18 cents lower, she said.

However, council member Steve Cathey said those who were responded were most passionate about recycling, and most residents probably were ambivalent, and he opposed the preferred option.

Mike Huber added there’s a danger in making a decision based on the survey, but said he agreed with the option to keep the depots open and activating the materials recovery facility.

Mayor Steve Freel said a lot of people have told them they want to keep the recycling program and will gladly pay the extra $1.70.

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