City officials are considering a plan to bring curbside recycling to Billings by switching to a “pay as you throw” system for trash collection next year. Now, all residential customers pay the same fee for garbage pickup, regardless of how much they have hauled away. The service includes regular trash collection once a week and a monthly pickup for additional refuse.

The so-called extras program is not only inequitable, it’s also inefficient, unsustainable and unsafe for workers, Deputy Public Works Director Jennifer Duray told the Billings City Council during a presentation of her department’s recommendations for the 2024 budget. As part of the annual financial planning process, public works staff researched solid waste fees to make sure rates would sustain future trash collection services and landfill operations.

They came up with a proposal to change the city’s solid waste fees and replace the extra pickup program with a monthly curbside recycling service. If the council gives it the go-ahead, city workers could start collecting cardboard as soon as July 1. The effort could eventually be expanded to an automated single-stream system in which all recyclables, including newspaper, plastic and aluminum, could be picked up in the same bin.

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Author: Amy Nile, Billings Gazette
Image: Amy Lynn Nelson, Billings Gazette