Focus on Sustainability: Mesa Green Barrel Program

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It’s time for spring yard work, and the city of Mesa has started a program to help residents dispose of yard waste. Mesa is the only city in Arizona that will offer a curbside barrel program for the weekly collection of green yard waste. The waste will be converted into mulch and compost. Mariano Reyes from the city of Mesa will discuss the program.

Ted Simons: Tonight we look at Mesa's efforts to turn yard wastes from neighborhood into compost and MULCH. Here to tell us more about the Green barrel program is Mariano Reyes with the city of Mesa.

Mariano Reyes: Glad to be here.

Ted Simons: The Green barrel program. Give us an overview

Mariano Reyes: It's an opportunity for residents instead of sending their Green waste material to the landfill they can have it composted and used for MULCH for gardening purposes. We're primarily talking leaves, grass, small branches.

Ted Simons: What kind of yard waste are we talking about?

Mariano Reyes: Your normal Green yard waste you would generate while doing your normal landscaping activities.

Ted Simons: like this poor son of a gun mowing his lawn, she's trimming the hedge. Is this a special barrel or just for yard waste?

Mariano Reyes: It's specifically for yard waste. That would be the only type of material that would go into the container, and it goes in there unbagged. That's to assist in the composting process.

Ted Simons: no bag and tie.

Mariano Reyes: no bag and tie. If you're putting your material in the black trash barrel you would have to bag and tie it, but for the Green barrel because of the way they process it, the bags would interfere with the decompositions of the material. There's no need for the bag.

Ted Simons: We saw it there put on the street, alleys as well.

Mariano Reyes: In Mesa we don't have alley collection. Everything is curb side. Basically once a week along with the blue recycle barrels.

Ted Simons: same day?

Mariano Reyes: Correct. If you have a Green barrel you put both out on the same day before. Our drivers will service the container and you're good to go.

Ted Simons: Is the same driver coming for both barrels?

Mariano Reyes: its two different trucks. One truck is gathering all the recycles, the other is Green waste container. We do have residents that will contact us and say, I saw the driver come down. He got one barrel but missed the other one. We have to remind them there are two separate vehicles.

Ted Simons: this is once a week all year long?

Mariano Reyes: Correct. It's available year round. It's once a week. For residents they mow their lawn, they have their waste picked up.

Ted Simons: How much do residents pay for this?

Mariano Reyes: This service is an additional $5.51 per month. Very reasonable cost. If they were going to -- need an additional black trash barrel they have to pay $11 a month, so it's actually half the cost. There's some financial incentive.

Ted Simons: This is, what, $5.51 a month but you have to keep the service for six months?

Mariano Reyes: Correct.

Ted Simons: why is that?

Mariano Reyes: The reason we ask them to keep the barrel, obviously we have to run our routes. If we have to keep altering routes based on the amount of containers out there it wouldn't make us as efficient. We ask they keep them a minimum of six months. Here in Arizona march through October prime season for landscaping needs. So serves the purpose.

Ted Simons: it's in the barrel y. it gets thrown into the truck. Where does it go?

Mariano Reyes: Once it's collected from the curb our trucks will take it over to Salt River landfill. They have a special area on the site, a Green waste processing facility. Our trucks dump the material there and that begins the process where they do the composting.

Ted Simons: the idea I read it extends the life of the landfill. What's that all about?

Mariano Reyes: Well, where normally if we were servicing the material with the regular trash material, any of those things would go to the landfill and get buried. Now that would take up valuable space that could be used for material that could not be recycled, whether couldn't go in the blue or the Green barrel. We're just using the landfill for material that cannot be diverted in any other manner.

Ted Simons: participation rate. What are you seeing there?

Mariano Reyes: The program has been available since . About one-third of the city participates in the Green barrel program, is equivalent to about 36,000 households out there that have a Green barrel on their property and are using it.

Ted Simons: Since if you have known about it that long and haven't done it you probably decided you do or don't want it.

Mariano Reyes: Correct.

Ted Simons: was it mottled after anything else?

Mariano Reyes: We are the only city in the state of Arizona that offers this program. It's a point of pride. We're really excited that we can talk about our Green barrel program. Our residents really embraced program. They like T. as far as participation goes, it makes sense for some residents if they have a lot of Green waste being generated on their property. Others with more desert landscaping may not have such a need for it.

Ted Simons: Congratulations and continued success.

Mariano Reyes: Thank you.

Ted Simons: That is it for now. I'm Ted Simons. Thank you so much for joining us. You have a great evening.

Mariano Reyes:City of Mesa;

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