Mayor Seeks Changes To Tulsa's Green Waste Program

Thursday, August 8th 2013, 2:54 pm

Tulsa Mayor Dewey Bartlett recommended Thursday the city consider changes to the green waste program, but said he's not suggesting the city shut down the plant that mulches the material.

He said the city should at least temporarily relax restrictions on citizens trying to get rid of green waste at their homes.

Bartlett's opinion comes after the revelation that the city has been incinerating green waste, instead of recycling it. The public was told the green waste was being recycled and monthly bills have a separate fee to pay for it.

Instead of recycling the green waste, the city sends a separate truck to pick up bags which are then delivered to the same facility as the regular trash. Citizens are required to pay a 50 cent fee per bag and put green waste in clear bags.

Angela Fisher has been bagging her yard waste, paying for stickers and putting it on the curb for six months, and said she wasn't happy when she learned her green waste was going to the same place as her trash.

"I mean that's what the whole recycling program is about," Fisher said.

8/7/2013 Related Story: Green waste Collected By City Of Tulsa Now Being Burned Instead Of Recycled

Bartlett suggested that, until the situation can be straightened out, citizens shouldn't have to use clear bags, at least.

The decision is solely that of the TARE board, a separate authority established by the city.

The TARE board chair told the council he first learned of the situation on July 23. The practice started in January. Chair Randy Sullivan said a piece of equipment purchased to separate the bags from green waste didn't work as advertised. The bags have to be removed from the material before it can be mulched.

Sullivan said, "It's not a fix it tomorrow solution," and would require contractual changes with the burn plant and the trash hauler to solve.

"We want to know who is responsible, who knew this and didn't report this higher up," said Councilor GT Bynum.

Bynum, upset that the people who have been paying to have their green waste recycled haven't been getting it, said he believes they should be compensated.

"We've been charging people with the premise that we've been providing them a service," Bynum said.

Bartlett said he's already talked with other parties about operating the green waste program and the TARE chair said, "I think the program will continue," but suggested it might be handled by an independent contractor.

The TARE board will meet Tuesday to discuss the problem and will update the city council on Thursday.