The future of the Carbon County recycling program is on everyone's mind.
During a recent meeting of the county Solid Waste Advisory Committee, members of 15 municipalities; as well as solid waste officials, met to discuss what can be done for the recycling program in the county.
Currently, Carbon County services 14 municipalities through the blue bin recycling program. Other municipalities have curbside recycling programs in place.
Duane Dellecker, director of the Carbon County Department of Solid Waste, provided the group with information on the current status of the program; as well as discussed future options that may be feasible for the county.
The Carbon County recycling program was established in 2001 with the help of four state Department of Environmental Protection grants totaling $1,230,524. Since its inception, the county has collected over 1,500 tons of recyclable materials annually using five recycling vehicles.
At first, the program was funded through various grants; as well as the sale of commodities, which brought in nearly $200,000 until 2009.
Dellecker explained through this program, it was saving on average $232.74 per ton for residents.
As the market for recyclable goods decreased, so did the state grants, which have now completely dried up. By 2009, the sale of commodities brought in only $2,200 and the county was forced to begin draining its recycling fund surplus.
Dellecker noted that in addition to the financial problems the program is facing, with the sale of commodities expected to bring in just under $38,000 this year; the county's recycling vehicles are on their last legs. These components are making for an anticipated net loss of approximately $80,000 this year. To date, the county commissioners have allocated $80,000 to help keep the program afloat.
Dellecker then provided suggestions for future options available to the county.
He said that possible future avenues include remaining at status quo and the county funding the program fully; refurbishing the current vehicles instead of purchasing new vehicles; ending the program all together; creating a waste management millage tax to help with operating costs; piggybacking a user fee onto utility bills; have municipalities take a more active role by contracting services with the county so regions and better rates could be set up; or build an integrated solid waste management facility in the county as a transfer station in the county-owned Packerton Yards parcel.
Members of the municipalities in attendance questioned some of the options, such as the transfer station.
Dellecker stressed that the were only potential options and the commissioners have the final decision, so nothing has been discussed in great detail.
Earlier this year, the county commissioners voiced their concern over the future of the recycling program.
At the time, the board said that it will discuss its options during the preparation of the 2013 budget and see if a decision could be made that would fit the county's needs.
One concern the board pointed out was that if the program was discontinued, municipal garbage costs would be affected.
The Carbon County Department of Solid Waste's recycling program has been questionable for the last three years because of lower revenues coming into the program. This means that in addition to the blue bin program in place in some municipalities, the electronics recycling program and phone book recycling collection contest are also in jeopardy.