Hundreds of Casper residents favor the city's recycling program, want to expand part of it and are willing to pay for it, according to survey results so far, the city manager said Tuesday.

"The vast majority is indicating right now to go in the direction of maintaining recycling depots as we do currently, and opening the [materials recovery facility] to get zero contamination tolerance," Carter Napier told the city council at a virtual work session.

Those residents would be willing to pay an extra $1.70 per month per household for the service, Napier added.

About 1,100 people have responded to the survey on the city's website and phone calls and mail, he said. "In terms of overall response, 1,100 responses to me is fabulous as you try to get a pulse of what the community would like to see happen."

The city makes nearly $63,000 a year on recyclables, which partially offsets the costs of maintaining the program, Napier added.

Two weeks ago, most council members agreed that the feel-good aspect of people putting their cans, bottles -- glass and plastic, cardboard and newspapers in the green bins isn't worth the cost because of market forces and tighter requirements from buyers of recycled products.

The city's solid waste manager Cynthia Langston said then the landfill has has had to reject 25% of the recycling loads because, for example, contamination happens by putting Styrofoam in the bin for cardboard.

That 25% is deposited in the landfill, which means a fourth of residents' recycling efforts are in vain and the city doesn't get the revenue, she said.

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

While the survey responses were impressive, council member Mike Huber wondered if the respondents understood the meaning of contamination -- tape on corrugated cardboard would be enough for a buyer to reject the load.

Charlie Powell respected what people want, but he doubted the recycling efforts would ever reach a zero contamination rate.

Ken Bates responded that people he's talked to do understand what contamination is about and they're being more educated and cautious about what they put in the bins.

Bob Hopkins invoked his engineering background to underscore the point that recycling depends on energy efficiency. "There's almost no money in anything that you recycle except aluminum cans."

"It's BTUs in and BTUs out," Hopkins said, but added that people should have recycling if they want it.

Mayor Steve Freel said most people who have contacted him favor the program and are willing to pay for it.

The survey will be on the city's website through Friday. The city staff will have the final results available for the council next week, Napier said.

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