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Sheridan City Council Receives Update On 'Pay-As-You-Throw' Study

Catherine Wheeler

As Sheridan is two-thirds of the way through its waste diversion pilot study, the city utilities department so far has found residents in the study area are throwing away less garbage. Though, there hasn't been an increase in recycling.
Sheridan's Utilities Director Dan Roberts updated the City Council at Monday's meeting on the pilot 'Pay-As-You-Throw' study, which is two thirds complete.

The purpose of the study is to see if residents will recycle more versus tossing waste that goes to a landfill and if the program would be cost effective for the city. The study allowed residents to opt for a smaller trash can and then receive credits to their bills for waste disposal service. Though residents were free to choose the standard carts during the study.

Sheridan Utilities Director Dan Roberts said the pilot study area includes 780 households and about half chose to utilize a smaller container.

"Just on overall waste, or what we'll call garbage disposal, that's dropped to 3 tons a week. On average, we're generating less. But oddly, we're not increasing our recycling, so recycling has actually been a little less than what it was during the baseline months," Roberts said.

In the months before the pilot began, the city took a baseline of what was being thrown away through waste disposal and how much was being recycled.

Roberts said they found 7.5 percent of what is being thrown away right now could be recycled. He said the department believes that number could be improved.

"For residential collection, we feel there's a potential of four percent which is 2,000 tons a year...So that's what we thought we could get out of a 'Pay-As-You-Throw' type of program," he said.

Roberts said there is still time left in the city, so they look forward to seeing how the numbers play out.

In addition to considering the potential for diversion, the city will look at expense, time, and other factors to see if a permanent pay-as-you-throw program could be effective.

The study will wrap up at the end of April and residents will receive their pre-study containers back. Roberts will then update the council in May with the final data.

Have a question about this story? Contact the reporter, Catherine Wheeler, at cwheel11@uwyo.edu.

Catherine Wheeler comes to Wyoming from Kansas City, Missouri. She has worked at public media stations in Missouri and on the Vox podcast "Today, Explained." Catherine graduated from Fort Lewis College with a BA in English. She recently received her master in journalism from the University of Missouri. Catherine enjoys cooking, looming, reading and the outdoors.
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