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.
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.
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