News and Music Discovery
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

City of Murray Offers Bi-Monthly Curbside Recycling Services

Melanie Davis
The City of Murray now offers bi-monthly curbside recycling services for $15 a month.

The City of Murray is now offering bi-monthly curbside recycling services. Chris Chapman and John Griffin, current and former chairs of the Kentucky Chapter of the Sierra Club, speak with Tracy Ross about the new voluntary program.

Murray's brief recycling hiatus was a small part of a greater recycling dilemma that has affected the entire country over the last few years. Wholesalers reject contaminated recyclable materials. Up until two years ago, rejected recyclables were shipped to China for processing. When China stopped accepting these materials, the American recycling market (and America's landfills) took a major hit. 

"In Calloway, we started with more [types of] plastics, and they were contaminated," Chapman continues. "People didn't clean out their peanut butter jars. Wholesalers were rejecting our loads and dumping them in the landfill. If you don't get paid for it, you've just wasted the transportation costs. Those restrictions aren't from the local governments; it's from the wholesalers."

To avoid recyclables ending up in a landfill, Chapman says the Murray recycling program "will not be as robust as people might think. It's going to be paper and cardboard, empty plastic bottles and jugs, aluminum and steel cans. Dirty trash, coated paper, styrofoam, all the other plastics aren't allowed. No glass. We have to have a lot of education about what can go in."

Republic Services required 500 households, around 10% of the city's total, to subscribe before recycling services could begin. Starting the recycling program small and within city limits will help the program's odds for economic sustainability.

"Right now, we can't even do small commercial [businesses]," Chapman explains. "But hopefully, in the future, as we get stability, we can grow that and capture more of that stream. If you use a recycling can, you can cut your trash down and get rid of a second can. The more we can load those cans up, the less that goes to the landfill. That helps the city save money. This is the first step in a process."

At the time of this article's publication, recycling services are not set to begin for county residents. "The county hires their own trash haul. The county was contacted initially for conversations with the city," Griffin says, but there was not enough interest to pursue the program further. Griffin hopes that a successful city program will eventually encourage the county community members to join. 

"If we have enough work between three, four counties in western Kentucky," Chapman adds, "maybe we could make a recycling center. That would take the refuse from this population and...sort the different types of plastic and bail it. Then, it would be marketable. That would be a nice goal for the future that would take some communication, cooperation, and investment. But in the long run, the less we throw in the landfill, that's going to lower the cost. Not to mention pollution. States are running out of spaces to dump."

Griffin says that more advanced technology could also help sustain the viability of a city-, county-, or statewide recycling program. "The technology to actually reprocess plastics has to catch up. Because right now and the foreseeable future, it's touch and go whether us processing plastic for reuse is as economically feasible as making new stuff with petroleum. It just isn't always. Until it becomes the go-to process over pumping petroleum out of the ground, the markets will fluctuate up and down."

The City of Murray is currently accepting new subscribers to their recycling program. To sign up, call the city at 270-762-0380 or e-mail 

"If you sign up, it's 15 dollars a month. You get picked up twice a month. It's a 96-gallon cart like we have now, only you'll have a yellow lid," Chapman explains. "The materials are loose in there. You don't want to bag them. Rinse and clean them, and they'll pick that container up."

"The goal is to get way past 500 and get a larger portion of the county, and then those costs will come down and save the city and the users money. I hope we can get the spirit behind it and get the town to take pride in it, to advance the program and have the best program around. Try to get that community spirit. Anything to help the community keep things out of the landfill," he continues. 

The Sierra Club plans to "put out some really nice posters and help the city explain these programs, so people understand exactly how to use it. If you like this idea, reach out and communicate with your city council members. Same with Ron Allbritten and the sanitation people who got this going. Reach out to those people, and let them know that you appreciate what they've done. It's a great start, and hopefully we can build this into a bigger program. We're excited to see where it can take us," Chapman concludes. 

For more information on Murray's recycling program, visit their website. Learn more about the Kentucky chapter of the Sierra Club, including how to become a member, on their website

Tracy started working for WKMS in 1994 while attending Murray State University. After receiving his Bachelors and Masters degrees from MSU he was hired as Operations/Web/Sports Director in 2000. Tracy hosted All Things Considered from 2004-2012 and has served as host/producer of several music shows including Cafe Jazz, and Jazz Horizons. In 2001, Tracy revived Beyond The Edge, a legacy alternative music program that had been on hiatus for several years. Tracy was named Program Director in 2011 and created the midday music and conversation program Sounds Good in 2012 which he hosts Monday-Thursday. Tracy lives in Murray with his wife, son and daughter.
Melanie Davis-McAfee graduated from Murray State University in 2018 with a BA in Music Business. She has been working for WKMS as a Music and Operations Assistant since 2017. Melanie hosts the late-night alternative show Alien Lanes, Fridays at 11 pm with co-host Tim Peyton. She also produces Rick Nance's Kitchen Sink and Datebook and writes Sounds Good stories for the web.
Related Content