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[City Expands Curbside Composting Collection]

[00:00:13]

GOOD MORNING, I'M ALYSSA ARMSTRONG AND I WILL BE THE MODERATOR FOR THIS MORNING'S PRESS CONFERENCE.

THANK YOU FOR JOINING US.

AS WE ANNOUNCED THE FINAL EXPANSION OF OUR CURBSIDE COMPOSTING COLLECTIONS PROGRAM.

FIRST I'D LIKE TO INTRODUCE OUR SPEAKER AUSTIN RESOURCE RECOVERY DIRECTOR, KEN SNIPES, WHO WILL PROVIDE US WITH MORE INFORMATION ABOUT THE EXPANSION AS WELL AS WHAT IT MEANS FOR ARR AND ITS CUSTOMERS.

FOLLOWING DIRECTOR'S SNAPS REMARKS, WE'LL BE OPENING UP TO QUESTIONS FROM LOCAL NEWS OUTLETS, WHICH WILL BE FACILITATED BY OUR POOR QUARTER.

JACK FLAGLER WITH COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER CHEN PRECISE COMPOSTING PROGRAM.

55,000 CUSTOMERS WILL RECEIVE A POSTCARD THIS WEEK, INVITING THEM TO A VIRTUAL TOWN HALL ON JANUARY 28TH, INFORMING THEM OF THE START OF THEIR NEW SERVICE BEGINNING IN FEBRUARY, CURRENTLY ABOUT 152,000 HOMES RECEIVE THE CURBSIDE COMPOSTING COLLECTION SERVICE.

THIS FINAL EXPANSION WILL PROVIDE THE SERVICE TO ALL REMAINING AUSTIN RESOURCE RECOVERY CUSTOMERS.

AFTER A FOUR YEAR PHASED APPROACH THAT BEGAN IN 2017 AUSTIN RESOURCE RECOVERY IS DEDICATED TO PROTECTING THE ENVIRONMENT, PROVIDING EXCELLENT CUSTOMER SERVICE AND PROMOTING PROGRAMS AND SERVICES THAT WILL HELP AUSTIN REACH ZERO WASTE BY THE YEAR 2040, GETTING THERE WILL MEAN ALL AUSTINITES WILL NEED TO REDUCE, REUSE, RECYCLE, AND COMPOST AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE TO MAKE SURE WE ARE LEAVING BEHIND A CITY AND A PLANET.

THE NEXT GENERATION WILL BE, WE'LL BE PROUD TO INHERIT.

A RECENT STUDY SHOWS THAT NEARLY HALF OF THE MATERIALS AND ALSO LANDFILLS CAN BE COMPOSTED.

MOST OF ALL, MATERIAL CAN NOT BREAK DOWN IN A LANDFILL AS IT WOULD IN NATURE OR IN THE COMPOST PILE INSTEAD OF DECOMPOSES WITHOUT OXYGEN RELEASING THE HARMFUL METHANE INTO THE ATMOSPHERE BY COLLECTING FOOD SCRAPS, FULL SOIL, FOOD, SOIL, PAPER, AND YARD TRIMMINGS THAT THE CURB, WE WILL KEEP VALUABLE MATERIALS OUT OF OUR LANDFILLS PROLONGING THE LIFE OF THE LANDFILLS IMPROVEMENT.

AUSTIN'S AIR QUALITY AND REDUCING HARMFUL GREENHOUSE GASES.

WE THANK YOU FOR BEING HERE TODAY TO HELP US SPREAD THE WORD ABOUT THIS IMPORTANT PROGRAM AND THIS GIANT STEP FORWARD IN AUSTIN'S FUTURE AUSTIN RESOURCE RECOVERY CUSTOMERS CAN VISIT AUSTIN RESOURCE OSTEO, RECYCLES.COM TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THE CURBSIDE COMPOSTING PROGRAM AND HOW TO USE THEIR GREEN CAR.

THANK YOU, KEN.

NOW WE WILL THROW IT OVER TO OUR POOR REPORTER WHO WILL BEGIN THE QUESTION AND ANSWER PORTION OF OUR PRESS CONFERENCE.

THANK YOU, ALYSSA.

THANK YOU, KEN.

UM, OUR FIRST QUESTION COMES FROM, UH, HERE AT COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER.

UM, BUT THIS PROGRAM WAS ROLLED OUT OVER A, QUITE A LONG PERIOD OVER THE COURSE OF SEVEN YEARS.

UM, HOW DID YOU DECIDE WHERE, AND WHEN YOU WOULD EXPAND THIS IN AN EQUITABLE WAY AROUND THE CITY, UM, NOW THAT YOU'RE REACHING THIS, THIS FINAL PHASE OF REACHING EVERY AUSTIN RESOURCE RECOVERY? WELL, ONE OF THE THINGS WE DID WAS WE EVALUATED THE NEIGHBORHOODS AND WE LOOKED AT, UH, THINGS LIKE SET OUT RATES AND PARTICIPATION RATES TO DECIDE WHAT WERE THE BEST OPPORTUNITIES TO SEE HOW THE PROGRAM WILL BE RECEIVED IN THE COMMUNITIES.

AND WE ENDED UP WITH A, UH, WE USE SOME, SOME DATA.

AND ONE OF THOSE DATA METRICS THAT WE LOOKED AT WAS TO SET OUT RATES, UH, AND WE KNEW THAT, UH, WE HAD, UH, OVERALL SET OUT RATE OF APPROXIMATELY 30%.

AND THAT WAS ONE OF THE DRIVERS THAT WE USE TO DETERMINE WHERE WE WOULD, UM, TEST THE PROGRAM.

OUR NEXT QUESTION COMES FROM AUDREY MCGLINCHY AT KUT NEWS.

SHE ASKS, CAN YOU CLARIFY WHETHER THIS IMPACTS JUST PEOPLE WHO LIVE IN SINGLE FAMILY HOMES? HE SAYS, IF I'M NOT MISTAKEN, MULTIFAMILY BUILDINGS ARE SERVICED BY PRIVATE COLLECTORS AND WILL NOT BE INCLUDED IN THIS.

THAT IS CORRECT.

THE TARGET WILL BE FOLKS IN SINGLE FAMILY HOMES AS PART OF THIS ROLLOUT.

ALTHOUGH WE DO HAVE SOME SERVICE FOR FOLKS IN MULTIFAMILY, BUT THE TARGET OF THIS PROGRAM IS MULTI, IS SINGLE FAMILY HOMES.

OUR NEXT QUESTION, WHAT EFFECTS, IF ANY, HAS THE PANDEMIC HAD ON COMPOSTING IN AUSTIN? WELL, THE PROGRAM ROLLOUT WAS IMPACTED BY, UH, THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC.

WE WOULD HAVE, UM, ROLLED THIS PROGRAM OUT ABOUT A YEAR AGO, BUT IN AN EFFORT TO PROTECT BOTH OUR STAFF AND THE PEOPLE THAT WE SERVE, WE DECIDED TO DELAY THE ROLLOUT, UH, UNTIL THIS YEAR.

SO STARTING IN FEBRUARY, UM, THE PROGRAM WILL KICK OFF IN OUR ANOTHER ONE FROM US HERE AT COMMUNITY IMPACT.

UM, HOW IS THIS PROGRAM FUNDED AND HOW MUCH DOES IT COST THE CITY NOW THAT IT IS EXPANDED FULLY? THE PROGRAM IS FUNDED THROUGH AN INCREASE IN THE BASE RATE.

THE ORIGINAL, UM, RATE WAS, UH, AN INCREASE

[00:05:01]

OF $1 THAT WAS SUPPORTED BY CITY COUNCIL.

AND IN, AS PART OF THIS FINAL ROLLOUT, THERE WILL ALSO BE AN INCREASE OF ABOUT $2 AND 60 CENTS FOR SUPPORT THE COST OF THE PROGRAM.

A SECOND QUESTION FROM KUT NEWS, UM, WHAT EFFECTS OF THE CITY'S COMPOSTING PROGRAM THUS FAR AT, ON DIVERTING TRASH FROM LANDFILLS? IS THERE ANY WAY THAT YOU CAN QUANTIFY THE EFFECTS? SURE.

SO, SO FAR WE KNOW WE HAVE REMOVED ABOUT 91,000 TONS FROM THE SYSTEM, AND THAT HAS ALLOWED US TO DIVERT THOSE MATERIALS TO THE COMPOSTING PROGRAM AND AWAY FROM THE LANDFILL.

AND THAT'S A PRETTY SIGNIFICANT NUMBER.

SO WE'RE PRETTY HAPPY WITH THAT.

AND OUR FINAL QUESTION HERE, UH, WHAT ARE SOME OF THE AREAS THIS EXPANSION WILL INCLUDE? UM, COULD YOU NAME SOME OF THE NEIGHBORHOODS IN AUSTIN? UM, NOT OFF THE TOP OF MY HEAD.

I DON'T HAVE THE EXACT NEIGHBORHOODS.

IS THERE JUST SORT OF A GENERAL SENSE YOU CAN GIVE OF THESE, THESE 50? UM, I BELIEVE IT WAS 55,000, UH, NEW HOUSEHOLDS KIND OF HOW, HOW YOU'RE EXPANDING TO REACH THESE NEW PLACES.

RIGHT? SO AS I MENTIONED THAT THE ONSET WE'RE GOING TO REACH OUT WITH POSTCARDS TO EACH OF THE EFFECTS OF CUSTOMERS AND WE'LL BE LETTING THEM KNOW, UM, WHEN THEIR COLLECTION DAY WILL HAPPEN, DEPENDING ON WHERE THEY LIVE.

IT'S EITHER GOING TO BE ON A STARTING FEBRUARY 8TH OR FEBRUARY 16TH.

PERFECT.

KEN, THANK YOU SO MUCH.

THANK YOU JACK, FOR FACILITATING THAT.

NOW I WILL OPEN IT UP TO KEN IF HE HAS ANY CLOSING REMARKS YOU'D LIKE TO MAKE.

WELL, I THINK THAT THE MAIN THING I LIKE TO GET ACROSS IS THAT COMPOSTING IS VERY IMPORTANT AND EXPLAIN TO PEOPLE WHAT IT IS.

IT'S, IT'S A NATURAL PROCESS THAT BREAKS DOWN COMPOSTABLE MATERIALS LIKE FOOD SCRAPS AND YARD TRIMMINGS, AND IT TURNS IT INTO A DARK EARTHY SOIL LIKE MATERIAL OR SOLAR AMENDMENT.

UM, COMPOST HELPS WITH WATER RETENTION AND HELPS TO FERTILIZE CROPS AND LAWNS AND GARDENS.

AND, UH, IT AVOIDS THE USE OF CHEMICAL FERTILIZERS.

SO THIS IS A REALLY, REALLY GOOD PROGRAM AND IT ALLOWS US TO PROVIDE, UH, OPPORTUNITIES TO OUR CUSTOMERS AND TO OUR CITIZENS TO HELP DO, UH, PLAY A ROLE IN SAVING THE PLANET AND, UH, HELPING OUR OVERALL, UM, GOALS OF REACHING OUR GOAL OF ZERO WASTE BY 2040.

THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR EVERYONE FOR JOINING US TODAY.

AND THAT IS THE END OF OUR PRESS CONFERENCE.

HAVE A GOOD DAY.

.

* This transcript was compiled from uncorrected Speech-to-Text.