Denison’s recycling program has been deemed a success by city officials, but its purported financial benefits for the city have been difficult to discern. Data available for the seven months during which the program has been operating fully, April through October, show city recycling has reduced Denison’s landfill waste by about 5.2 percent, or 99.1 tons per month. The program costs Denison’s 8,070 participants $2 each month, with the city kicking in about 50 cents for each customer to make the program financially solvent.

Denison’s recycling program has been deemed a success by city officials, but its purported financial benefits for the city have been difficult to discern. Data available for the seven months during which the program has been operating fully, April through October, show city recycling has reduced Denison’s landfill waste by about 5.2 percent, or 99.1 tons per month. The program costs Denison’s 8,070 participants $2 each month, with the city kicking in about 50 cents for each customer to make the program financially solvent.


"Recycling makes good business sense, and it is a responsible form of stewardship," said City Manager Robert Hanna. "We need to focus on education and the reasons why recycling is the responsible choice for our citizens."


Denison first implemented its recycling program in February with three chief goals: saving money on tipping fees, delaying expansion of the Texoma Area Solid Waste Authority landfill and generally helping the environment by allowing reuse of recyclable materials. The numbers show each of those goals has been met to some degree, with more than 828 tons of reusable materials being diverted from the dump in the program’s first nine months — the equivalent of about two weeks worth of the city’s total garbage.


Denison Mayor Jared Jonson, who said the city is thus far pleased with the results, emphasized the local desire for a recycling program that was the Council’s impetus for its creation.


"I think we’ve seen that the program has grown over time, and we’ve heard from our private sector partner (Progressive Waste Solutions of Texas), and they say our participation rate is very high, too." said Johnson. "That confirms that the citizens did want recycling, and we were able to come up with a way we could afford."


The city said it has saved nearly $29,000 in landfill costs, but between user fees and city subsidies, the recycling program has cost more than $210,000 through nine months. According to Hanna, the program’s true savings can’t be so narrowly defined.


"Recycling helps to extend the life of the landfill. It costs approximately $2.9 million to open a new cell at the landfill. The cell usually lasts for five years and the cost for that cell is passed on directly to the citizen through their rates. If we can delay the need to open a new cell, we delay the need for a rate increase. People can see the wisdom in this, and I hope they choose to recycle."


Regarding the four-bit monthly deficit the city is carrying per customer, Hanna said Denison is comfortable eating that charge because of the intrinsic value it sees in the program.


"I have no plans of asking (the City) Council to increase solid waste rates to capture the $0.50 deficit per bill. I am confident if citizens make full use of the recycling program, that we will make up the deficit through decreased landfill charges. Either way, we are prolonging the life of the landfill and being good stewards of creation."


Johnson concurred.


"I don’t see any changes in the near future," he said.