Hendersonville resident Leona Steinhilber pulls up to the drop-off recycling facility on Center Point Road two or three times a month and unloads sacks of cans, newspapers, cardboard, plastic and magazines.
“I recycle just about everything here,” she says. “I wish they took glass but they don’t.”
It isn’t long before someone points to a new sign at the facility that stops Steinhilber cold in her tracks.
Beginning in December, the drop-off site at Green Village Recycling will shutter its bins, leaving residents like Steinhilber with two choices. Drive 20 minutes to Gallatin to drop of recyclables or pay for the curbside service.
“I am not happy with that,” she says. “I’ve tried to avoid paying to recycle. We came from Indiana where we didn’t have to pay for it. So many people won’t pay for it. But I just can’t see dumping all of this stuff in the garbage again.”
Green Village Recycling Owner Jason DiStefano says the city left him with little choice but to close the site. Wednesday was the last day to drop off recyclable materials.
“I went to the Board of Mayor and Aldermen meeting a year ago, in 2017, and explained that our costs outpace what we bring in,” said DiStefano who started the Hendersonville company in 2011 and opened the drop-off site in 2014.
He estimates that around 100 cars pull up on the one day a week it’s open. A $2 donation is requested, but some of those cars are regular twice-a-month curbside clients who aren’t charged.
“We bring in $100-$150 on a Wednesday, but it costs around $350 a day to keep the facility open,” DiStefano said.
He approached the city about working out a plan to keep the drop-off site open three to five days a week but so far nothing has materialized.
Green Village reported to the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation in 2017 that it diverted 940,000 pounds of recyclable material from a land fill, saving the city around $15,000 in annual tipping fees, DiStefano argues.
“Hendersonville has saved thousands of dollars in diverted materials yet there’s no support for our drop-off facility,” he said. “But since they’re not writing a check for that difference, they don’t know they’re saving it.
DiStefano informed the city’s Board of Mayor and Aldermen about the drop-off site’s closing at the Nov. 13 BOMA meeting.
“This is a loss to the city because it means more recyclable material from Hendersonville will end up in a landfill somewhere and the city and taxpayers have to pay for that,” Mayor Jamie Clary said earlier this week.
Clary said at least one alderman approached him after that BOMA meeting and asked how to keep the drop-off center open.
“The conclusion was to ask the Solid Waste Advisory Committee to look into this,” he said.
The committee’s formation was approved by BOMA in September but not all of the appointments have been made to the seven-member committee yet.
The committee is charged with studying the issue of trash and recycling in Hendersonville and reporting back to the city’s Public Works Committee by November of 2019.
The city is currently in the midst of a pilot curbside recycling program initiated in 2017.
DiStefano says he brought the idea of the pilot recycling program to the city, but didn’t get the contract because Republic, the company that also collects the city’s garbage, had the lower bid.
He says he’d still like to work something out for a drop-off site, but can’t continue to lose money.
“We’re going to leave the door open for discussion if they can put together an annual budget and an annual plan,” he said. “We just don’t want more of the same. We need to go bigger. Bolder. More signage, more equipment. Even though we had 100 cars a day, there would probably be 500 cars a day if we were open five days a week with more signs, more awareness.”
“We can’t do it all on our own, and that’s what we’ve been doing.” - DiStefano
Green Village will continue to offer curbside recycling to customers in Sumner and Robertson counties as well as service the commercial clients it has across the Nashville area. It will also continue to accept electronics for recycling by appointment.
The Resource Authority of Sumner County is now the closest drop-off facility for Hendersonville residents. It’s located at 625 Rappahannock Wire Road in Gallatin.
Where to drop off recyclables:
The Resource Authority of Sumner County is located at 625 Rappahannock Wire Road in Gallatin. The facility is open from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday. It is closed on Sunday.
The following items are accepted at the facility: Plastic #1-#2 containers, bottles and jugs only; glass (brown, clear and green bottles and jars only); cardboard; tin and aluminum cans; newspaper, magazines and mixed office papers; used motor oil and antifreeze.
This article was originally posted by the Hendersonville Standard and can be found at: