Just as the long-awaited start of its Patagonia curbside pickup of recyclables finally got underway in early December, Recyclops announced a new rate structure for its customers nationwide that will make it more difficult for the company to achieve its minimum customer goal of 100 subscribers in this market.
Recyclops had set a $12 per month price for its basic service that includes biweekly pickup of the most common household recyclables except glass. The new plan, effective Jan. 1, keeps the $12 monthly rate in place for customers who pay for a full year of service upfront, but those who wish to pay monthly will now pay $15 a month. The cost to add glass to the service will remain at $7 monthly.
Bob Brandt, chair of the recycling task force, expressed exasperation upon learning of the rate increase and contacted Dennis Wise, Recyclops’ marketing and sales chief, requesting a delay in implementing the higher fees in Patagonia. Wise responded that inflation and increased supply chain costs had made the painful decision necessary. He emphasized, however, that those who pay for the full year at the start will continue to receive the service at the $12 monthly rate.
“This unfortunate turn of events is troubling,” Brandt said, “but the results of our 2020 survey to determine the level of support for recycling in our community showed that a lot of our friends and neighbors are willing to pay considerably more than the new Recyclops rate for this service, so I’m hopeful the damage will be minimal.”
Two weeks into the service rollout, Eric Holeman, the company’s Director of Operations in Arizona, reported that 76 customers were receiving services and 46 of those have added glass to their basic service. He also noted that 101 had signed up but 25 still had not provided their billing information and therefore had not yet received service. Seven Patagonia Lake households have signed up as have several Sonoita-Elgin area households, but Recyclops will not begin to serve those residents until they can substantially increase the number of participants or work out some alternate plan with pricing tailored to more rural areas.
Utah-based Recyclops began picking up recyclables from customers in Patagonia on Dec. 8. The company has divided the town into two routes, each being serviced on alternate Wednesdays. One route includes households south of Naugle Avenue, the other serves the north side of town. The company has signed up only one driver to date but would like to hire additional drivers. Anyone interested in becoming a driver should visit the company’s website, www.recyclops.com/careers.
Early reports from participating households included a mix of praise and criticism about the start-up experience. While some reported a lack of communication after signing up and confusion about when their service would start, those who signed up and actually had their recyclables picked up were pleased with the service.
The high percentage of subscribers who have paid for glass recycling may be a major reason that the glass recycling event sponsored by the task force on December 18 was lightly attended. The volunteers who worked at that event collected less than half of the usual volume. After a few months of Recyclops operations, the task force will assess the impact of the curbside program on its alternating monthly cardboard and glass collections and decide whether to halt, continue or modify those events.
After having changed its usual fourth Saturday collection date because of the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays, the task force will return to that schedule and collect cardboard on January 22. A larger than usual amount of cardboard is expected because of Christmas, but the big unknown, Brandt said, is how much cardboard will be picked up at the curb by Recyclops instead of being taken to the drop off event behind the post office.
Recyclops subscribers can put small amounts of cardboard in the blue recycling bags, but larger quantities should be flattened, tied in bundles and placed at the curb.