By Debby Woodin
Globe Staff Writer
JOPLIN, Mo. —
Once about every five weeks, Dianne Ray loads the trunk of her silver Buick and heads for the Joplin Recycling Center.
She has a bag of plastic bottles, a box of newspapers, a few aerosol cans and a crate of cardboard she distributes to the appropriate collection bins at the center, 1310 W. A St.
“I just can’t see throwing all this stuff in the landfill,” she explained, so she keeps a few bins and a bag in her garage for sorting recyclable materials.
Curbside recycling isn’t necessary for her. She stopped eight years ago throwing everything in the garbage. Plastic — water bottles and laundry soap containers, for example — can be dropped off for recycling rather than stacking up in a landfill where “they don’t deteriorate in the soil,” she said.
Ray has written the recycling center’s hours on her calendar and plans errands to include her occasional stop to drop off recyclables.
While she doesn’t mind taking materials to the recycling center, she believes some people won’t recycle unless it’s convenient, which may mean a program that picks up the waste at the curb.
“I can see where some people would like it because they lack the initiative to do it themselves,” she said of curbside recycling. Others may not have the space to keep sorting bins for different items.
The question of curbside recycling is back on the agenda for Joplin residents.
The Joplin City Council will hold a work session at 5:45 p.m. today at City Hall to talk about whether to institute curbside recycling or let Joplin voters decide. The council also will hear the results of a survey on the issue taken by the Young Professionals Network of the Joplin Area Chamber of Commerce.
“It will be a continuation of the council’s discussion last July,” said Assistant City Manager Sam Anselm, noting that curbside recycling was recommended by the Citizens Advisory Recovery Team, which compiled goals from residents after the May 2011 tornado about what they want to see in Joplin’s future.
Anselm said the council may make a decision today on whether to declare it a ballot issue.
The question has been whether Joplin wants the service enough to pay the asking price.
When the existing city franchise agreement for trash service was discussed three years ago, the hauler did not have a place to take Joplin’s recyclables. Last year, Jennifer Fagan, a representative of the hauler, Republic Services, told the council that a plant in Kansas City would now be available to take the materials.
The company offered three options for recycling service:
• It would provide a cart and weekly recycling collection along with current trash collection services for $5.20 more a month per household.
• It would pick up recyclables with trash removal limited to the contents of one cart for $4.32 more per month.
• It would pick up recyclables every other week for $2.50 more a month.
Current trash rates are $11.33 a month without a recycling charge.
The city also contracts with Republic Services to give Joplin residents lower rates for bulky item disposal at the company’s transfer station, 1715 E. Front St., which is also called Old Route 66 near Galena, Kan.
“I’m all for recycling,” said Joplin resident Cody Dennis as he unloaded a pickup truck bed of cardboard and plastic at the recycling center last week. “I think it’s a wonderful thing if people will do it.”
His sister-in-law in Kansas City has curbside recycling, “and she loves it,” he said.
What if it costs $5 or $6 per month? Dennis stopped unloading to think about it for a minute. “That’s a hard question,” he said. “Is it worth it? It depends on how they do it.”
Ray can see where cost could become an issue.
“To some people that $6 would not be a big deal, but some people don’t have that,” she said.
Whatever the city of Joplin eventually decides about curbside recycling, Ray wants the recycling center to remain.
“I don’t want them to close this,” she said. “If people are using it, why close it?”
THE JOPLIN RECYCLING CENTER, 1310 W. A St., is open from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays, and from 2 to 6 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays. Area residents (including those outside Joplin) can dispose of the following items for free:
• Cardboard and paperboard, such as cereal or pasta boxes.
• Newspapers, magazines, phone directories, books, junk mail and office paper.
• Plastic No. 1 and No. 2 bottles with necks but without lids.
• Glass bottles, jugs and jars without lids.
• Aluminum and tin or steel cans.
• No. 2 plastic shopping bags.
• Clean packing peanuts and bubble wrap.
• Inkjet and toner cartridges.
• Electronic waste such as computers and televisions.
• Some household chemicals including insecticides, herbicides, acids, mercury, lubricants, pool and spa chemicals, cleaning products, and home maintenance products.