Petersburg’s Public Works Director Karl Hagerman presented for a second time to the Haines Borough Solid Waste Working Group Monday on Petersburg’s trash system and the benefits of joining the Southeast Alaska Regional Solid Waste Authority.

The working group is considering Petersburg’s model as it moves forward in creating a solid waste management plan for Haines.

Hagerman has worked with the Petersburg government since the 1990s and oversees its solid waste management program.

Petersburg ships out its municipal solid waste and recycling as part of a long-term contract with Republic Services of Washington, and is currently negotiating with Waste Management to dispose of scrap metal.

Hagerman said the community has its own bailer, worth about $200,000 plus maintenance costs, that is used to compact trash and comingled recycling for shipment in 40-foot shipping containers. The bailer is housed in a large heated building. Four fulltime staff manage the bailer, local landfill and pick up waste on trash routes.

Hagerman said the garbage system serves about 1,100 customers. Every residence within the townsite is required to have trash collection for a monthly fee, depending on the size of the trash can and frequency of trash pickup per week. Petersburg has three dump trucks that transport waste to the bailing facility. Residences outside the townsite and businesses have the option to haul their own garbage.

The recycling program is completely free, Hagerman said, and households that recycle get 20 percent off trash pickup fees.

“When we developed the comingled program, we wanted participation but we didn’t want to make it mandatory,” Hagerman said. “Garbage collection is mandatory for residential customers. Customers don’t really like being told what to do especially when it’s from the government.”

About 19 percent of the community recycles, but Hagerman said he’s shooting for 50 percent, which would save Petersburg over $80,000 per year.

“That’s the trick for me now is to try to get more people to recycle,” Hagerman said. “It’s still somewhat of a losing effort.”

Hagerman said Petersburg would save money in shipping costs if more people recycled, because bails of recycled material cost less per ton. Higher participation in recycling is normally seen when the materials are comingled instead of separated.

Items that are left in Petersburg’s landfill instead of shipped south include creosote pilings, glass, tires from junk cars and scrap metal. Petersburg has a system in place for residents to dispose of appliances, hazardous waste, junk cars and other bulk items. The community also has a law that requires households to secure garbage cans closed to prevent bears and other wildlife from tampering with them.

Petersburg was one of the founding communities in the Southeast Alaska Regional Solid Waste Authority, or SEASWA.

The authority was formed in 2009 and has been operating on a legislative grant. Hagerman called the authority a “facilitator” that assists the communities in creating contracts for waste removal. Each community had a substantially similar waste ordinance passed and voted on by local ballot. There is no cost to municipalities to join the authority. Current membership includes Wrangell, Thorne Bay, Craig, Klawock, Hydaburg, Kasaan and Coffman Cove.