MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) - It may feel good, but recycling newspapers, plastic milk jugs and beer cans isn't cheap. That's the main reason the City of Memphis hasn't upgraded its recycling facilities and trucks since it launched the program more than 15 years ago.
The number of people recycling in Memphis has dwindled over the years, mostly due to customer frustration. The city says overhauling the program will change that, but it comes at a cost.
Right now, only 23 of the city's 51 recycling trucks are working.
"If we go and buy the trucks now," says Andy Ashford, Deputy Director of Solid Waste Management, "they'll be antiquated in five years. Then we have to buy another fleet of trucks. It just doesn't make good business sense."
The city's current recycling contract runs for another 5 years, and the company that holds the contract wants the city to sign an additional 10-year contract before it upgrades its facilities.
The new facilities would end the need to sort plastics, paper and aluminum. Germantown recently started using the newer technology and has seen an increase in demand.
Memphis recycles 8,000 to 10,000 tons of trash per year. Ashford says the city's demand for recycling could easily surpass that number.
"With the size of Memphis and the number of people we service," Ashford tells abc24.com, "we think we can easily achieve 30,000 to 40,000 tons a year."
At a work session this week, several city council members balked at signing another long-term contract at this point. Ashford says his team is preparing another presentation for the council.