Hopkinsville’s waste department decided on two major steps Thursday to expand its recycling division.

Whether they lead to curbside recycling service will depend on how much money the state and the city council are willing to contribute.

The Hopkinsville-Christian County Recycling Center will move to a larger building, and it will lease instead of building or buying, said Tony Sicari, director of the Hopkinsville Solid Waste Authority. Recycling Director David Gibbs has only started looking at buildings.

Also, the Pennyrile Solid Waste Management Authority will ask the state for grant funding to buy a sorting line and a second baler. The board voted unanimously on Thursday afternoon to prioritize the sorting line over the baler.

Instead of asking for dollar amounts, they decided to ask for the equipment. The state won’t respond until July.

If the grant money does come through, waste personnel will ask the city for about $1.26 million to buy 18,000 Herby Curbies. Then it could get curbside pickup rolling.

With these steps, the waste department doesn’t put itself at any risk. Even if it doesn’t get a sorting line, the recycling program needs a larger building, Sicari said.

Last week it had no room to store a $500 load of paper at its cramped facility on Mt. Zoar-Latham Road, so the paper got wet outdoors and ultimately sold for only $150, Sicari said.

Recycling volume has doubled in the past year, Gibbs said.

“We’re in growing pains here,” he said on Thursday.

But even so, it remains far below national averages.

An analysis the New Era conducted late last year determined a local curbside program likely wouldn’t pay for itself, but because recyclables have resale value, it might cost less than trash collection. The greatest barrier is the equipment cost: a building, a sorter and baler, and an extra Herby Curbies for every household.

The state won’t give money for a larger building, Gibbs said. Before Thursday, he and Sicari had not talked in any public forum about the option of leasing.

Gibbs recently looked at the former Mountain Metals Manufacturing building on Old Concord Lane. The city could lease it for $3,000 a month, and it would have enough space for at least the next couple years.

“I can eat that cost,” Sicari said.

He’ll find room for it in the waste department or recycling program’s budget.

Also at Thursday’s meeting, the board voted to apply for a grant to buy 25 tall recycling bins. They are shaped like bottles, and the city could put them up at community events like Little River Days and Take Kids Fishing Day.

People could toss empty bottles and cans inside.

The bins might not bring in a high volume of recyclables, but they would make effective advertisements for the recycling program, said Ashley Johnson, community development specialist at the Pennyrile Area Development District.

Keep America Beautiful and the Coca-Cola Foundation provide the grants.

REACH NICK TABOR at 270-887-3231 or ntabor@kentuckynewera.com.

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