Recycling fee remains in place

By TOM KANE

HONESDALE, NY — The $2 recycling fee, paid by haulers to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania for every ton of recyclables they haul to landfills, will not be used to pay off the environmental bond-issue that was approved by voters in the May 17 primary election.

The money from the fee will continue to go into the county’s coffers to fund grants to municipalities who wish to start, expand or improve their recycling programs.

The $625 million environmental bond issue, called Growing Greener II, will be paid off by using the $4.25 tipping fee that haulers must pay at landfills in the state.

Governor Rendell had proposed that the bond be paid off by both the tipping fee and the $2 recycling fee. The legislature rejected the use of the $2 recycling fee for this purpose.

“Keeping the fee to support recycling programs is welcome news to recyclers,” said Randy Heller, director of the Wayne County Solid Waste Department when he met with the Wayne County Commissioners on August 4.

The concern over the possible loss of the fee to municipalities resulted in an outpouring of e-mails, calls and faxes from recycling professionals, elected officials and members of the general public, he said.

If the fee were to be used to pay for debt service, it would not be available to municipalities, he said.

Monies from the bond issue will be used for such things as abandoned mine reclamation, river cleanups, farmland preservation, conservation of open space, hazardous sites cleanup, improved state parks and similar environmental projects, he said.

Increase in recycling

During the presentation, Heller revealed that there was a 25-percent increase in recycling tonnages from 2003 to 2004.

“That’s a substantial increase,” he said. “More people are recycling than ever before. If that material were put into the regular waste stream, it would be an enormous burden both financially and environmentally.”

However, only three of the sixteen haulers in the county handle recyclables, he said.

“Most of our townships have their own recycling programs that adds to the total tonnage,” said Tony Herzog, chairman of the Wayne County Commissioners. “Our townships should be commended for that effort.”

There was a nine percent increase in the total waste tonnage between 2003 and 2004. “It will come as no surprise that the increase is another sign that growth is already happening in the county,” Heller said.

Heller also revealed that the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania leads the nation in the amount of garbage brought in from outside the state.