Proposed recycling amendment met with concerns

An amendment to reshape Pasco County’s recycling collection was an agenda of importance at the Board of County Commissioners meeting on May 21.

The proposal was first introduced by the county’s Solid Waste and Resource Recovery Department at a board workshop in April.

It came in response to a 2017 survey, which showed that over 75 percent of its Pasco County respondents preferred a higher frequency of recycling service, as well as carts.

Residents provide their own containers for recycling, which are identified with stickers supplied by one of the haulers. (File)

This change would increase recycling pickup from twice a month to once a week.

While residents would be able to continue using their own personal bin to load recyclable items, there would be the option of private haulers issuing a cart for a monthly fee.

Regardless of what container is used, it would have to be labeled with a signature sticker in order for it to picked up.

Also, glassware would no longer be accepted as a recyclable item, as it is deemed as a ‘contaminant.’

Broken glass mixed with other recyclables leads to potential contamination, thus lowering the commodity value of those items.

What’s more, glass has led to higher costs for the county when hauled away with recyclables – with foreseeable increases on the way.

According to the county, glass makes up about 40 percent of the weight for recyclables annually.

Costs become a burden when factoring in the transportation to a processing plant, then the separation of dirty glass from other recyclables, once there.

“We’re currently paying $45 a ton to transport the materials down to [the material recovery facility],” added John Power, the county’s solid waste director. “By 2020, our contract is going to disappear, so we’re going to see that price go up drastically.”

If glass was separated, it could potentially save the county over $100,000 in yearly expenses.

Joe Meierhoff stood before the Board of County Commissioners on May 21 as the sole opponent to the new proposal to phase out glass from recyclables. Meierhoff is a regional manager for Strategic Materials: a company that buys and redistributes refurbished glassware. (Brian Fernandes)

However, there was pushback against the proposal during the public hearing segment.

Joe Meierhoff is a regional sourcing manager of the glass-processing company, Strategic Materials.

He took to the podium to address his opposition before the board.

His company takes in recycled glass from material recovery facilities. Based on the condition of the glass, the business may see profit as it sells the material to bottle manufacturers.

Meierhoff expressed doubt about the reported annual glass weight, suggesting that contents inside glass perhaps adds to the bulk.

He also added that whether thrown in a garbage or recycling bin, the glass ultimately ends up at a landfill either way.

“I would like you to not agree to put glass out of the recycling,” he implored. “At the very least, give me the opportunity to work with the contracted recycler and see if we can come up with a resolution.”

While no definitive answer was given by the board, there was no indication that the manager’s request would be ruled out.

Although, that was not the only conflict that arose from the proposed amendment.

Under the new ordinance, Pasco residents who belong to a homeowners association (HOA) or a community development district (CDD), would not receive once a week pickups until their contract with private haulers expired.

Once the contracts end, these groups would be expected to abide by the same level of service as the rest of the county.

After receiving feedback from residents within these groups, Commissioner Mike Moore contested the idea.

“They have concerns about budgeting,” he said. “They want to be able to continue to negotiate those terms themselves, as they do now with the haulers.”

Other board members, however, took a different stance.

Commissioner Mike Wells noted that he had not received any negative feedback on the particular proposal.

He also went on to state: “I think we need to do it county-wide. I don’t know that we need to make an exception for one community.”

In agreement, Commissioner Kathryn Starkey added that “they can negotiate their price, they just need to have recycling once a week.” She also mentioned that the only alternative would be for HOAs and CDDs to pay a higher fee if they did not comply with the ordinance.

Currently, the maximum amount a private hauler can charge a resident for both garbage and recyclable pickup is $12.44 a month.

If passed, the ordinance would grant haulers a 90-day period before providing the amended services.

The ordinance would not require any funding in order to go into effect.

The Board of County Commissioners meeting was held in the West Pasco Government Center board room in New Port Richey.

It was agreed unanimously by the board to continue discussions on the ordinance at a June 4 meeting.

Published May 29, 2019

Comments

  1. Sharon Anderson says

    I implore Pasco County & Caliente Resort to push past any barriers. It’s critical to increase our reduce, reuse & recycle ♻️ activity. Bins must prominently display large lettering & individual separation at the point of disposal. There are bins that label for separate disposal: “bottles”, “aluminum cans”, “glass”, “plastic “, “cardboard”. Increase public awareness with education, television, commercials & literature. Do the right thing Caliente Resort.

  2. Laurie Finch says

    So I am unclear when do we have to stop adding glass to our bins and where can we recycle glass in the county?

    • Brian Fernandes says

      Hi Laurie,
      Thank you for reaching out with your questions. The new recycling system was voted into law on June 4 by the county board. However, haulers have a 90-day window to allow residents to adjust to the new system. So as late as September, glass will no longer be accepted with recyclables. It is asked that glass be placed with regular trash by then. As not to mislead you, I can’t say if every hauler is going by the same standards. What I can say is that Wednesday pickups have already begun. I would recommend reaching out to your hauler just to make sure they’re still accepting glass. You can find the list at http://www.PascoCountyFL.net/180/Garbage-Information. Then click on ‘Curbside Garbage Pick-up’ for the list of haulers’ contact information. I hope this is helpful.

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