Waste hauler seeks Villagers’ feedback on future of recycling and costs

The waste hauler for much of The Villages sought feedback from residents about the future of recycling, trash collection and its rising costs.

About 100 Villagers gathered Thursday morning at Mulberry Grove Recreation Center for the second in a series of presentations offered by John Wood of Jacobs, the waste hauler for Community Development Districts 1 through 11 in The Villages.

The District is in the midst of developing a solid waste plan for the future, working with Jacobs and residents.

The North Sumter County Utility Dependent District Board, which played host to the meeting, recently voted to raise its monthly household assessment for trash collection from $17.90 to $19.38 for 2020. That increase will be followed by nine consecutive annual increases of 2.5 percent. That money will be used to pay for bonds previously issued by NSCUDD. The monthly fee paid by Villagers has been at $17.90 since 2012. Information presented by Wood showed the money is no longer covering the rising cost of collecting trash and recyclables.

In 2018 in The Villages, collection included:

• 22,000 tons of household trash

• 11,120 tons of recyclables

• 7,600 tons of commercial trash

• 6,780 tons of yard waste

• 10,000 tons of bulk pickup (including old furniture, BBQ grills and appliances)

Recyclables from The Villages are taken to a Materials Recovery Facility (MFR) in Tampa, where they are sorted. Recyclables currently are processed at $28.35 per ton in The Villages. The sorting is labor intensive and growing more costly.

“We are going to see that $28.35 per ton increase dramatically,” Wood predicted.

And MRFs across the country have been swamped by little brown boxes, thanks to Amazon.

“You go to a MRF now and it’s full of little brown boxes,” Wood said.

Jacobs personnel distributed clickers to those in the audience used in real time to provide answers to questions asked by Wood. He described the clickers as a mainstay for today’s college students, including his son and daughter, for use in taking quizzes and interacting in their classes.

Villagers used the clickers to provide their opinions as to whether they’d be willing to pay more for recycling pickup and bulk waste pickup.

While many believed the on-demand bulk pickup should merit an additional user fee, many felt exactly the opposite about additional fees for recycling. The majority feared an additional recycling fee would encourage residents to stop recycling and put all of the recyclables in the trash.