Road to Recycling: Amarillo city officials speak out

As May elections approach the city of Amarillo, city officials provided some insight as to why the city does not offer a convenient way for residents to recycle.

"We really look at evaluating this every time we do a budget and it's really just not been cost effective to do it," said Amarillo Mayor Paul Harpole. "Do we have everybody participate in recycling, by raising taxes to recycle or not, and we find our constituents don't want to do that."

Officials said additional costs to residents is just one of the reasons for the dismissal of a city-wide recycling program.

"It's not only expensive to collect, to pick up and process," said City Commissioner Dr. Brian Eades. "Since we don't have a local processing center, if you factored in the cost of fuel to get it to Albuquerque or the Metroplex, it became just insurmountable."

Transportation costs aren't the only issue.

"In a place like Amarillo, where land and a landfill is a very cheap commodity, you no longer have the economic incentives to keep things out of your landfill," said Eades. "And that's the other factor that makes Amarillo not a great market for recycling."

For local businesses like KB Recycling and Republic Services, those answers aren't enough.

"I don't want to see that landfill grow to a point where it's infesting our water with bacteria and things like that," said KB Recycling Co-Owner Jordy Finley. "So I think it's just important for people, it's about education at this point. It's about doing the right thing, the smart thing for the environment and our community."

Amarillo Mayor Paul Harpole said the local interest doesn't compete with the price of going green.

"I've seen people that are interested, I don't see it increasing tremendously because I think people will really figure out, well I just don't know if I'd spend an extra 15 or 25 dollars," said Harpole. "Now there's certainly some people that do that and I think that's important for them."

That's where private and corporate businesses in the recycling industry step in.

"I think that's where private businesses can pick up and take over that. In certain areas the cities just aren't able sometimes to do, fund, or have the manpower to do it," said Republic Services Site Manager Kim Vincent.

For many residents, the cost of recycling is worth the hassle.

"I think it's worth the inconvenience to go ahead and do it. I really think it's worth it to our world," said Amarillo Resident Cathy Maddox.

feedback that Amarillo City Commissioner Dr. Brian Eades said will foster change in the community.

"I think the city commission works for the people of Amarillo, and at the point where people say to us it's time and we feel like this is something we want to do and they're able to put a voice to that, we'll respond and we'll do the right thing.