Successful Recycling Program Keeps Costs Down in Mauldin

Posted by Olivia 07/14/2014 Categories: Finance public works

Recycling has many environmental benefits including pollution reduction and  fewer landfills but these benefits translate into economic benefits as well. Landfills are no longer empty holes to to simply fill with trash. Many regulations are in place to protect the public from methane gas build-ups and groundwater contamination. Landfills must be carefully engineered. They are costly to build, maintain, close and monitor after the closure. Post-closure monitoring can last up to 30 years. The city of Mauldin pays the county nearly $250,000 in landfill fees annually. These fees are assessed based on the volume of trash the city deposits in the landfill. The fees support the cost of the county to run the landfills. The less the city deposits, the lesser the fee because the landfill fills up slower and can remain open longer.  


Mauldin has offered curbside recycling to residents since 1990. Public Works employees empty around 23,350 trashcans and 11,570 recycling bins in a given week. These statistics indicate a participation rate of 49.5%. The rate may actually be higher because some residents choose to wait longer than a week to have their bins emptied. The recycling rate, which is the amount of recycled materials divided by materials deposited to the landfill, was 43% in May 2014 which is nearly 10% higher than the countywide rate of 33. 6%. 


Mauldin takes every opportunity to encourage residents to recycle. In 2010, the City offered residents the opportunity to trade in their 20 gallon bins for the 65 gallon roll-out containers to encourage more recycling per household. The high turnout required City staff to order more of the larger bins. In 2012, the City participated in Coca-Cola’s ‘Recycle & Win’ program. Residents were encouraged to put a specific sticker on their recycle bin. If the resident’s bin was spotted by the curb with the sticker, they were eligible to win a $50 Bi-Lo gift card. The prize patrol visited neighborhoods in Mauldin every week starting in September and gave away nearly 150 gift cards. 


Most items can be recycled. Categories include aluminum, glass, newspapers, magazines & telephone books, paper, plastic bottles & jars, steel or tin cans, and unwanted mail. For a full list and instructions, see attachment. 


City workers collect your recyclables from your bin. The items in your bin are comingled, or mixed together. Technology has evolved so that municipalities do not require citizens to separate aluminum, paper and plastic anymore. This is a much more efficient manner of collecting recyclables. Mauldin takes all recyclables to a Material Recovery Facility operated by Sonoco Recycling which is a unit of Sonoco, a multi-billion dollar global provider of consumer packaging and other such items. This facility is located on White Horse Road. They pay the city a market rate for these recyclables, take what they can use and sell what they cannot use. Nearly 3 million tons of paper, plastic and other materials are recycled by Sonoco annually. Sonoco has 40+ recycling facilities around the world. Fifteen thousand retailers use recycled packaging from Sonoco. So what used to be your bottled water may become the plastic covering for a new package of batteries, for example. 


A 65 gallon roll out recycling container may be purchased at City Hall, 5 East Butler Road, Mauldin SC 29662,  for $25. Public Works will deliver it to your home and the bin becomes the property of the homeowner. There is no additional fee for garbage or recycling pick-up. These are the services included in the property taxes assessed by the City. There are financial and environmental benefits to recycling. The more our community recycles the less our taxpayers pay to put material in the landfill.