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New trash program provides good value

On Jan. 2, waste and recycling services will improve in Gwinnett and residents will have one go-to organization for service monitoring and enforcement. The new program, "A Greener Tomorrow Begins Today," will be managed by GCB Services.

The "Greener Tomorrow" program, the result of four years of research and extensive input from residents, will provide the best value and most efficient service for homeowners in unincorporated Gwinnett.

To ensure residents' questions and concerns are answered quickly, we've established a new Web site and a call center. Quality control inspectors will monitor waste haulers to ensure they're adhering to our strict service standards including performance, missed pickups, cans left in the street, property damage, customer complaints and complaint response time. GCB Services will have the authority to fine or terminate contracts if waste haulers don't meet the strict service standards.

Maintaining a low fee structure is just as important as providing quality service. When the program is fully implemented on July 1, all residents will pay a standard fee of $17.86 per month, with an additional $10 for optional yard waste pickup; senior citizens who qualify for SC homestead exemption will receive a 10 percent discount. The $17.86 is below the current average of $21, and residents will be able to recycle five times as many items than currently allowed.

For those questioning the need for a new program, there are two important reasons for it. First, Georgia state law required improved garbage and recycling collection, proper disposal of garbage, and increased recycling and waste reduction. Under the current system, nearly 20,000 homes did not have trash/recycling services, and Gwinnett was only recycling 10 percent of its solid wastes. This will increase to 23 percent under the new plan.

Second, Gwinnett residents have been asking for a change in the way garbage is collected in order to address increased litter, illegal dumping, impact on property values, and lack of convenient recycling. A "Greener Tomorrow" will make Gwinnett cleaner with the added benefit of fewer trucks, less traffic and fewer emissions on neighborhood streets because communities will have same-day service.

We solicited and received input from more than 5,000 Gwinnett residents at public forums, through polling and at multiple meetings over a four-year planning period. I'm confident that we will soon set the standard for more-efficient, more-effective waste management that provides the best value for residents, now and in the future.

We encourage anyone with questions or comments to contact us at info@gwinnettcbservices.org or by calling 770-709-5600.

Connie Wiggins is the president of GCB Services and executive director of Gwinnett Clean & Beautiful.