Editorial: Curbside recycling program well worth pursuing
In just 18 months, Cabell County authorities along with county residents have made significant strides in becoming more environmentally friendly through a new recycling program.
Now, they may be on the verge of taking another big step forward, with the Cabell County Solid Waste Authority looking into the practicality of starting curbside recycling. That would be a welcome development, considering that less than two years ago there was no government-sponsored recycling program of any kind in the county.
With the aid of a state grant and contributions from some local governments, the waste authority launched a drop-off recycling program in November 2011. At that time, eight bins were placed at four locations in the county, and Rumpke Recycling was the partner accepting the recyclable materials. Now, the program has 30 bins at eight locations, putting a bin within five to 10 miles of every resident in the county.
Many residents have shown they are willing to recycle if given a relatively convenient opportunity. The amount of materials dropped off has grown significantly since the program started, and well more than 500 tons have been collected.
That's a plus in multiple ways, by reducing the waste of materials that can be used again and lowering the volume of material placed in landfills.
The response to the drop-off program has waste authority officials looking seriously at curbside recycling. "It's the next logical step, and it's about looking at what will get you the most bang for your buck," said Solid Waste Authority Director Ralph Taylor. "The whole thing that makes recycling successful is making it readily available."
Offering curbside recycling would certainly do that, and help Cabell County catch up with a practice that many communities have been doing for years.
The growth of the drop-off program has meant more costs, and a major unknown at this point is the money needed to kick off a curbside program. More than likely, the waste authority would have to partner with private waste haulers and, in Huntington, perhaps the municipal collection service. It's also likely that those who want the service would have to pay a monthly fee of a few dollars.
The dollars and cents of such a program are being studied by a Marshall University Integrated Science and Technology class that focuses on solving environmental problems. A preliminary report gave cause for optimism, suggesting that curbside recycling may be less expensive than the drop-off program and divert a far larger amount of materials from landfills.
Eventually, whether that proves to be true will depend a great deal on county residents and the reliability of those partnering in the program, such as private haulers. Although some private haulers have offered curbside recycling in the past, consistency of service has cropped up as a problem and often there was no guarantee that the materials would actually be recycled.
If the financial aspects make sense and a sufficient number of residents take part, curbside recycling could well become a reality.
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