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City of Columbia trash vouchers arriving as new program ends first year


Columbia trash customers should be receiving vouchers for new bags in the mail this week, though some residents have complained about not being able to find the special bags the city requires.

Columbia has had a "pay as you throw" system for trash pickup in place since Feb. 1, 2021. Under the system, city residents get the equivalent of two large bags per week for trash. They must purchase more bags if they use more than two per week -- the city only picks up the special bags with the city's logo on them.

The program has drawn praise from some for reducing waste that goes into the landfill. Others complain the two bags are not enough.

Residents receive vouchers for the bags in January and June. But some have complained in the last week about bag scarcity of bags at local stores, where the vouchers are exchanged.

The vouchers can be used at City Hall, Gerbes, Hy-Vee, Menards, Moser's and Schnucks.

As of Friday, Schnucks, Menards, Gerbes, Moser's, Hy-Vee and City Hall all had bags available for voucher and for purchase.

The Hy-Vee store on Conley Road did report being out of city bags that can be acquired with vouchers Friday morning.

Since the "pay as you throw" program began on February 1st of 2021 to January 1st of this year, the city reported 3,787.58 tons of recycled wasted collected residential curb side and 3, 623.93 tons collected at city recycling drop-off centers.

The city says the first year of the program has been beneficial to the city of Columbia.

"Our recycling numbers are up, curb side and through the drop-off site, so you know that was one of the main goals of doing this was to increase recycling and we think that is a huge benefit. Matt Nestor with the City of Columbia said.

Customers are not charged for the bags if they have a voucher. Vouchers are redeemable one time only and are tracked by a bar code and cannot be duplicated.

Households in need of additional bags can purchase them in rolls of five for $10 or pay a $2-per-bag fee. The charge for additional bags acts as a usage fee where customers throwing away more garbage will pay a higher rate and covers the extra costs, including the landfill disposal fee, employee salaries and vehicle maintenance.

There is no limit to the number of bags place curbside for pickup but they must be in city-issued bags with the city logo.

The city says that bags will be dropped off consistently at area stores to keep up with the demand.

Check back for updates to this developing story.

Erika McGuire


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