Target: Dewey Bartlett, Mayor; Tulsa, Oklahoma
Goal: Demand recycling solutions for green waste
Oklahoma residents were promised a gleaming solution for turning green waste into a profitable recyclables program. However, unpreparedness, mismanagement of public funds, and thoughtless oversight of a new trash program show gross negligence by city officials. Green waste indeed has been promoted by the swindling of budget reserves for an ill-conceived plan, wasting millions of dollars in TulsaCounty.
Tulsa’s new trash service has been in effect almost one year and how’s it going so far? Turns out it’s been going as far as the dump with all the other household trash. City officials announced in a recent public meeting that collected green waste materials were not being separately recycled, as was believed. Instead, money is continually being spent to separately collect and haul green waste, only for it to end up being disposed of in the same place as regular trash. Shockingly, the Trash Board of Tulsa County admitted that although they are in charge of supervising the program, they were unaware of the problem until recently. The plan outlined to citizens last year advertised the delivery of green waste to mulch plants, an option that would have provided both income and sustainability. A public meeting earlier this month revealed that although the biodegradable materials have been picked up by specially designated trucks and crews, none of it has been delivered to a mulching facility.
Let’s follow the crumb trail of incompetence that has led to Tulsa’s current state of decomposing affairs. In 2006 the Tulsa Authority for Recovery of Energy (TARE) began making plans to overhaul the city’s thirty-year-old trash collection system. One of the three areas to be transformed dealt with green waste; organic material including leaves, branches, lawn clippings, and garden waste. In earnest forethought the city set out to “encourage recycling and yard waste re-use”. On October 1, 2012 the recycling initiative went into effect, meeting opposition with a stern, go-forward attitude. This is where the plan seems to have started going awry. The city was allotted a whopping $11.25 million for the trash program, a new fleet of collection trucks and operators were obtained, and the campaign was in full swing. Unfortunately, it seems in all the careful years of planning no one had a clear idea on how to remove the waste from its bags, a procedure known as de-bagging. In order for green waste to be effectively recycled the plastic bags containing it must be removed. Even though TARE and the Trash Board seat former members of recycling and refuse task forces, it did not occur to anyone to successfully think the plan through.
Board members and higher ranking officials alike are now scrambling for a solution and looking to each other for answers. With the city failing at de-bagging attempts that should have been tried long before implementation and funding, what are their responses? “Save it or scrap it” are the nonchalant answers being offered at this time. Roy Teeters, interim solid waste manager, has been given the task of compiling a study to generate information comparing the green waste program of other cities and cost changes to current trash pickup contracts. Other feeble resolutions have been offered, but TARE and Trash Board members are a day late and more than a dollar short on providing answers to Tulsa’s green waste problem.
Current trash contractor for the city of Tulsa, New Solutions, is willing to take over the program, stating that they are already hauling yard waste during their regular trash pickup. While city officials convene, dead branches and debris from recent severe weather activity are turning into piles of decaying compost on front lawns. Speak out against this misuse of city funds and demand separate carts for designated green waste recyclability.
Dear Dewey Bartlett,
Mishandling of Tulsa’s green waste program and unfulfilled promises of recycling must be amended. Don’t let the true “green waste” be the millions of dollars advanced for this initiative.
The city of Tulsa must participate in its own “help keep Tulsa green” campaign by providing Tulsan’s with green waste receptacles. The collected recyclables must then be turned into profit by proper recycling. This is an opportunity for the mayoral office to hold true the assurances given when it first enacted the new green waste program.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: tulsawxchaser.com