Carbon County residents who utilize the blue bin recycling program will have to throw their recyclables in the trash.
During the county commissioners' meeting on Thursday, the board voted 2-0 to discontinue the recycling operations and proceed with dismantling and vacating the blue bin recycling areas throughout the county, effective Feb. 28. Commissioner William O'Gurek was absent from the meeting.
The elimination of the program will save the county approximately $100,000 annually.
Commissioner Wayne Nothstein said that it was a tough decision to make, but needed to be made.
"It's really sad and I do not like having to make the decision of our recycling program going away. But when you get down to the economics of it, how much can we really afford?" Nothstein stated, adding that the county was not mandated by law to have the program.
He announced that the county will begin removing the bins on Monday, weather permitting, from the 14 sites that are served through the program.
In addition, the Department of Solid Waste, as well as the three full-time and two part-time positions in the office, will be eliminated after all bins are collected and stored; and all loose ends are tied up, Nothstein added.
He thanked the municipalities who responded to the county's request to buy into the program as an option. The county stated that it needed 100 percent participation to continue operations.
Some municipalities stated that they plan to start a recycling program on their own.
Nothstein wished them luck, saying that he doesn't see how they will save money by going that route.
"My feeling is if the county couldn't do it and save money, I don't see how the local municipalities will be able to do it for less," he said.
Commissioner Thomas J. Gerhard added that he thought the municipalities should have looked at the county's request closer.
"I think we made it clear," he said. "We needed 100 percent participation."
He noted that this was a very tough decision that no one wanted to make.
Nothstein also stressed that he hopes the public doesn't throw trash where the bins used to be located.
"In my opinion, those people who do should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law for littering," he said.
This means that in addition to the blue bin recycling program, the annual telephone book recycling program will also be eliminated from the schools.
The electronics recycling program is still up in the air, Nothstein said, noting that he was in contact with one borough about possibly partnering to continue offering the event because it is now law that electronics must be recycled rather than placed in a landfill. No definite decision on that has been made.
The Carbon County Department of Solid Waste has been questionable for the last three years because of lower revenues coming into the program; as well as state and federal cutbacks; and costly repairs to a number of the recycling vehicles.
In other matters, Nothstein also released figures from the 2012 annual report from the 911 Communications Center.
He said that in 2012, a total of 69,034 calls were responded to by police, fire and emergency services. This total is up just a bit from 2011.
He also pointed out a few areas that have increased since 2006. Calls for overdoses doubled in the six-year period; while calls for mental health issues tripled.
Nothstein expressed his gratitude to all dispatchers and workers at the communications center for all they do.