Shocking many residents, the Pike County Commissioners voted, at their meeting on August 15, to stop the countywide recycling program, effective October 1, 2012.
All containers at county recycling sites throughout the county will be removed by that date.
The commissioners passed a resolution to extend the contract between Waste Management and the county, which is up for renewal at the end of August, for the one month needed to bring it to the October 1 date.
“Even though the program was initially successful, over the past four years, it has become cost prohibitive to operate due to economic market downturn; reduction in state funding and reduction in administrative fees; increased program expenses; and illegal dumping removal expenses,” said Rich Caridi, chairman of the commissioners.
One reason for the action was that a major change has occurred in the industry, with private haulers now providing curbside, single-stream recycling to their customers at no additional charge. That meant that fewer and fewer residents were using the county program.
A surprising reason for the cessation was that the single-stream recycling program was becoming too costly.
“The county made a great mistake by taking on the single-stream program,” said Louis Troiano, owner of the GreenWay-Consulting Company, a waste removal and recycling management service. “Instead of one haul a week, the county had to make two trips a week. Also, the trash had to be removed from the recycling bins. That cost money.”
This fact was dramatically shown in a graph presented to the residents at the meeting. It showed that, as soon as the county adopted single-stream recycling, costs went from a gain of $111,277 in 2008 to a loss of $120,263 in 2009, the date when the single-stream program went into effect. Losses plummeted even more in 2010 and 2011.
Another big reason for the cancellation was the falling economy and the lack of state funding to help pay for a wide range of other services the county has to provide to its citizens. “With economic pressures at all levels of government to become more efficient, we as commissioners are attempting to operate county government by containing costs and permitting private industry to provide a continued recycling service and to reduce the tax obligation by our constituents.” Caridi said.
To add to the county’s problem, two county municipalities, Dingman and Lehman, are now mandated by law to initiate their own recycling programs, resulting in fewer county residents using the county program.
But at least one person thought the state might not let the county end the program. “I’m not sure the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Conservation will allow this without the county presenting a plan, which they have not done as yet,” Troiano said.
Caridi announced that signs have been installed at recycling sites informing all residents of the closing date. Moreover, after closure, the sites will be monitored for one month to assist with the removal of any illegal dumping.