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Thu, April 25

One man's trash ...

DEWEY ­ For more than a decade, recycling has been easy for the residents of Prescott; customers simply wheel their special containers to the curb, and city employees pick up the recyclables.

But it wasn't until a year or two ago that the city sanitation department got serious about some of its largest trash producers ­ its businesses.

After a pilot program in 2005, commercial recycling began in earnest in 2006. City officials estimate that about 200 businesses now participate in the program, using the 80 to 85 special Dumpsters that the city provides.

The hub for the program is a Material Recovery Fa-

cility (MRF) off Highway

169 in Dewey, where Joe Mattera runs Mattera En-

terprises Recycling.

One of the only centers of its kind in the area, the MRF takes in a wide variety of materials ­ cardboard, paper, aluminum ­ and sorts it and bales it on the spot.

In fact, virtually anything that comes in finds a home. "We have pretty much zero trash here," Mattera said, pointing at the compressed bales of materials at the Dewey MRF. "Whatever comes in, we find a market for."

In an effort to grow the operation, Mattera also recently made a bid for Prescott's residential recycling program, which would have been in addition to the commercial contract that the company already has with the city.

While disappointed that his bid was not the low one, Mattera said his company would now work harder to increase volume in other areas.

"Volume's everything," he said of the recycling business. To increase the flow of materials, he said his company would now focus more on becoming a "full-service, one-stop shop."

To do that, Mattera said the plant hopes to expand its buy-back business

from customers looking

for a place to drop off

their recyclables.

In addition, he said, "We'll go real hard at the commercial (recycling program)."

He would like to see the city expand its com-

mercial recycling even beyond the 200 accounts

it currently has.

"There is a lot of opportunity," he said. "There

are a lot of businesses,

and a lot of waste."

Chad McDowell, solid waste superintendent for the city, agreed that the potential exists for expansion of the commercial recycling program.

"I could easily see 600 accounts out there," he said.

But he and Laurie Hadley, assistant to the city manager, both emphasized that while the city could provide the additional Dump-

sters, not all local busi-

nesses are equipped for them.

"Space is the issue," McDowell said, noting that many businesses do not have a spot for the additional container alongside the trash Dumpsters that are already there.

For a new business, that usually is not a problem, say city officials. During the design review phase, the city now recommends that businesses leave space for a recycling Dumpster.

Although that is just a recommendation and not a requirement, McDowell said there has been little resistance among new

businesses. "Everybody wants to do it," he said. "Most the new ones have space for recycling."

Part of the reason for the acceptance, he said, is the incentive that the city offers for commercial recycling. For a regular trash Dumpster, the city charges $3.36 per yard (of garbage), McDowell said. But for a recycling Dumpster, the cost is half that amount ­ $1.68 per yard.

So, by reducing the amount of trash in the regular containers, Hadley said, businesses could cut down on costs.

McDowell agreed. "We guarantee it can save them money," he said. And in addition, he noted that "it reduces the waste stream" into the landfill.

The city's commercial recycling program produces 60 to 80 tons per month, for which Mattera pays

$10 per ton.

While the city's com-

mercial recycling is the

"bread and butter" for

Mattera's Dewey plant, he and his plant manager, Corey Burk, both mentioned other sources as well.

For instance, Burk said, Prescott Valley company, Patriot Disposal Inc. has established its own curbside recycling program for

its customers, and takes

its materials to the Mat-

tera plant.

Some businesses not in Prescott city limits also initiate recycling programs. "It's money back in their pockets," Burk said.

Contact the reporter at cbarks@prescottaz.com

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