Paducah leaders hear curbside recycling possibilities

We’re getting a clearer picture of what curbside recycling could look like in the city of Paducah.

City commissioners heard a presentation from City Manager Jeff Pederson and members of the Engineering-Public Works Department (EPW) at Tuesday night’s meeting about what it may take to accomplish curbside recycling.

To see the full presentation for yourself, click here.

Below is a summary of the presentation from Public Information Officer Pam Spencer:

Future Solid Waste Management for the City of Paducah

At the December 16 City Commission meeting, City Manager Jeff Pederson and members of the Engineering-Public Works Department (EPW) presented the Mayor and Commissioners with an overview of a solid waste management plan for the City of Paducah that would incorporate residential curbside recycling.  This is an initial presentation to provide the Mayor, City Commission, and the public with preliminary research findings.  Additional workshops will be held to discuss the proposed plan, clarify information, and address questions and concerns. 

Current Program 

Currently, the City collects approximately 26,000 tons of solid waste annually from residential and commercial customers.  The City has 9562 residential accounts.  That waste is taken to a transfer station owned by Republic Services on Burnett Street.  The City contracts with Republic and pays a tipping fee per ton of waste.   Republic is responsible for the waste transfer and disposal at a landfill.  To recycle yard waste and brush, the City operates a Compost Facility on North 8th Street.  The City also pays the organization, Greater Paducah Sustainability Project (GPSP), monthly per ton for the diversion of recyclables from the waste stream.

Why Develop a Plan? 

At the direction of the City Commission, the City Manager and EPW began researching the feasibility of providing curbside recycling to Paducah’s residential customers with the objective of providing the service within the existing customer charge, if possible.  Pederson says, “I think it’s important to note that this is a City Commission request.  It’s not being driven by any kind of mandate at the state or federal level at present.”  This research also comes with the fact that the City’s contract with Republic expires June 30, 2015.  The contract cannot simply be renewed.  A procurement process is required by Kentucky law since Republic has held the contract with the City for 20 years. 

Findings from Research

Over the past few months, EPW talked with other cities to learn the operation of their recycling programs, how they have modified over time, and their participation rates.  The 2013 City of Paducah citizen survey showed 48 percent of the respondents were very interested in a curbside recycling program with all recyclables place in one collection bin.  This process is called single-stream and requires the least amount of sorting from a citizen.  EPW made assumptions based on a 50 percent participation rate even though every residential account would be provided with a rollout for recycling.

EPW also reviewed the department’s existing collection equipment, the number of stops a collection truck can handle per day, and how that number differs depending upon the type of truck (rear packer is pictured on the left versus a side arm loader pictured on the right).  A rear packer collection truck which requires two personnel collects 350 rollouts per day.  However, a side arm loader which is operated by one employee is much more efficient and can collect 700 rollouts per day.  Paducah currently operates mainly with rear packer trucks and has only two side-arm loaders.  Due to the limited space in alleys, a side arm loader cannot be used in most alley situations. 

Operational Changes Affecting Citizens

EPW explained that to efficiently accomplish curbside recycling within the current rate structure, operational changes would be necessary.

• A customer’s weekly collection day may change to balance collection routes.

• The placement of rollouts would be moved from the alleys to curbside across the city.

• Items left adjacent to a rollout would not be collected.

Capital Outlay for Equipment and Program Structure

Regarding equipment needs and to gain collection efficiencies, the City may need to purchase as many as three side arm refuse trucks and retire several of the rear packer trucks in addition to the purchase of a rollout for every residential account.  Each residential account would have one 64-gallon rollout for trash and one 96-gallon rollout for recyclables.  EPW Operations Manager Chris Yarber says, “From what we have seen, many of the households have more recyclable material than they do what would need to go to the landfill. Plus, recyclables are often bulkier items.  Having the larger recycling container would encourage recycling.”  Each container would be collected weekly.  Those who decide not to participate in recycling will still have a recycling rollout; however, it cannot be used for trash.  The estimated initial capital outlay for the trucks and refuse containers is $1.275 million.

Annual Expense

The program also would have an increased annual expense mainly due to the increase in fuel and fleet maintenance in addition to providing education and advocacy programs.  EPW does expect personnel costs to be reduced due to the switch from mainly rear packer trucks to mainly side arm loaders.  Yarber says, “We anticipate the trash and recycling services could be done with fewer people if we have the right equipment.  The reduction in personnel would be done through attrition.”  Once the necessary equipment is purchased, the annual increase to the City of Paducah budget in offering curbside recycling within its solid waste management plan would be nearly $90,000 per year. 


The City of Paducah encourages citizens to be engaged throughout this process.  Please direct comments, questions, and suggestions to Public Information Officer Pam Spencer at or 270-444-8669.

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