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SUBMITTED by Nancy Kasper, Earthly Designs (12-Nov-2009)

Do you recycle? Your curbside pickup service may come to an end. The Wayne County Board of Supervisors is considering legislation that will privatize our recycling service, so if you currently don’t pay to have your household trash removed you will no longer have your recycling collected either. That’s because the new law would require privately contracted trash haulers to take over that responsibility and collect recyclable materials along with regular trash pickup. That’s what privatizing recycling will cause. No more public recycling service. It means if you want to continue having your blue bins picked up you will have to buy trash hauling service.

Why would this be good? Some Supervisors feel compelled to cut expenses. Sure, recycling costs something. Right now our not-for-profit County recycling service is paid through property taxes and costs 38 cents per $1,000.00 assessed property value. That’s $38.00 a year for a home valued at $100,000.00, a great value for a convenient and reliable service. But if that cost is cut from the county budget we save money, right? Not exactly. This merely transfers the cost from your tax bill to your pocketbook. Many households don’t generate enough trash to justify paying for garbage removal service. So privatizing will cause a new out-of-pocket expense for each household to contract a private trash collector in order to have their recyclables collected. That will cost many people more money than they’ve been paying through their tax bill for recycling service alone.

If that immediate cost factor wasn’t enough, consider the longer term health, environmental and social costs. Today there are still many backyard burn barrels in use despite laws prohibiting the burning of household waste in many towns. Unfortunately they are rarely enforced. If the additional toxins from burned recyclable plastics is sent into the air we breathe and to settle on food crops, the risk of disease from carcinogens increases. That translates to higher public healthcare costs. Everyone will suffer.

And finally, if we let our recycling program fall into the hands of a private, profit-motivated corporation like Casella, history proves it unlikely that our recyclable materials would be dealt with in a responsible manner and in a way that best serves our communities.

If you are among those who use the recycling service and don’t have garbage service, call your Town Supervisor and ask them what to do with all your recyclable material. If you have enjoyed having it picked up regularly like you have for the last twenty years, let them know you want to keep our publicly-owned recycling service. Tell them it’s a program well worth keeping.


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