It has been just about six months since Hopkinsville Solid Waste Enterprise announced and Hopkinsville City Council approved its new curbside recycling program, and Solid Waste still needs around 2,800 more customers to reach its 3,500 goal.

With summer just around the corner, general manager Tony Sicari is expecting more customers to sign up and plans on ramping up advertising for the recycling program over the June and July months.

Sicari explained that there are about 700 customers currently signed up for the curbside recycling program but hopes to reach 1,000 by the end of the summer as they are planning on several advertising opportunities throughout the summer.

"With the warm weather coming up, we're going to be doing some more advertising. Maybe do some community service stuff, maybe some stuff with the homeowners associations," Sicari said. "We've got some planning and things in the work to reach at least 1,000 or better."

Chris Powell, the head of the recycling program within Solid Waste, shared at the end of January, the magic number of participants in the program, to best help them and be the most impactful, would be around 3,500 customers. That number is roughly a third of the 10,900 total customers HSWE serves.

Despite only having 700 customers out of the 3,500 goal, Sicari is feeling positive at this point in time and is glad to see how those 700 are currently participating.

"The participation rate -- cans on the curb -- every week has been pretty good," Sicari said. "The product we got is clean. We haven't had as much contamination on the curbside as we have at the drop-off centers. But, the ones that we've got now have been really clean -- on the curbs."

The curbside recycling program officially began Feb. 1 and costs residents a monthly fee of $5.50 that is added to their garbage bill.

When the proposal was presented to the Committee of the Whole, it was met with concern as Sicari explained the enterprise was already at a roughly over $200,000 deficit, but they would take on the recycling project costs themselves, putting them well over $300,000 in the hole.

Since it was approved, HWSE hasn't seen much of an effect on that deficit from the program.

However, Sicari explained that he and the enterprise knew it would be some time before they could see an effect on their profits from the program, and at this point in time, it's too early to determine its level of success.

"There's still a deficit in the recycling program and that's mainly because the mills are not paying anything really for the product, and you still have the expense of picking it up, sorting it, baling it, shipping it," Sicari said.

"With just 700 customers doing it, you're not going to see that much of a reduction in (municipal solid waste) in residential routes -- it's small but not noticable.

"I can't honestly say my MSW for the areas that we're picking up has gone down that much. But, again, you're talking 700 customers throughout the city versus another 10,300 that you're picking up garbage from."

Despite that, Sicari is feeling positive and emphasized the importance of recycling for both the city and the environment.

"There are certain areas that you go up and down the street and you see a bunch of red cans out there; it gives you a pretty good feeling that it's going somewhere," Sicari said.

"It's kind of a necessary evil, it's something that's got to be done. Unfortunately, there's a lot of misconception of it in the general public. I think the general public thinks that recycling is going to bring in millions of revenue but it's false."

Sicari continued to share that he feels that recycling is something that is needed to save the environment and to prevent landfills going extinct in the next 10 to 15 years.

Ultimately, Sicari feels that the program is necessary, and despite the current deficit, HSWE will continue to push for everyone to sign up.

"We started the project and we're going to see through it. We're going to do everything we can to make it work," Sicari said.

Sicari encourages everyone to participate and said those who are participating are doing a great job following the guidelines to a tee.

Reach Avery Seeger at 270-887-3236 or Follow him on Twitter @AveryNewEra

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