COLUMN: I’m sorry, sort of

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Free ad swells recycling response, costs


I owe taxpayers an apology, but I’m really not that sorry.
A couple of months ago I donated the cost of an insert into The Anderson News Extra (the version of this paper that shows up in mailboxes each Monday) to the fiscal court as a means of supporting its burgeoning recycling efforts.
The insert featured information about how homeowners can access the recycling program, including having items picked up.
The results, I’m equal parts happy and sorry to say, were tremendous. Instead of picking up recyclables once a week, the solid waste department now does so several times a week, which is no mean feat for what amounts to a one-man show. (The other solid waste employee quit a few weeks ago and isn’t likely to be replaced anytime soon.)
That mountain of Mt. Dew and other plastic bottles that used to be dumped in the landfill has been reduced to a molehill, now, which is good news, right?
Well, yes and no.
The onslaught of customers brought on by that insert is costing the county some serious money because the resale value it receives after carting the items to Lexington isn’t nearly enough to offset the cost of picking them up.
Judge-Executive John Wayne Conway said recently that the county spent nearly $400 in fuel to pick up what amounted to $65 in recyclables, once they were sold.
On top of that, there are times when solid waste has to drive 10-plus miles just to pick up one household’s recyclables, which isn’t anywhere near cost effective.
Don’t get me wrong. Conway is thrilled that folks are recycling and hopes even more folks will jump on the bandwagon being so ably driven by Magistrate David Ruggles.
Ruggles gets the lion’s share of kudos for making the county just a bit greener, and even spent time last week picking up recycling in the city and county.
But as is always the case when government provides a service, someone (that means all of us) has to pay for it. And in this case, doing so is proving costly.
Conway tells me that he is working on a variety of ideas he hopes will keep the recycling program expanding without putting an undue burden on taxpayers.
Never one to withhold my 2 cents, I’ve wondered in the past why our contracted trash hauler doesn’t offer this service, even if those who use it are willing to pay an additional fee.
Perhaps that’s one place to start.
Another option is to have the county allow residents to deposit items in strategically placed recycling bins in various locations across the county.
That’s been tried, sort of, in the past and you guessed it, rotten apples from the bottom of the barrel spoiled it by using them for household trash and junk.
Short of posing sentries and surveillance cameras and having them open only during specified hours, the same would likely happen again.
Heck, it’s hard enough to get people to stop tossing garbage and construction materials into the compactor located right alongside the solid waste building near the dog pound. I’ve been there several times and seen the Dumpster loaded with everything from shingles to overflowing Hefty bags.
Yet another option includes building an actual recycling center, but don’t look for the pseudo greenie-weenies in DC to provide any funding for that project.
Team O and his EPA thugs are too busy figuring out how to force us to use those poison-filled curlicue light bulbs that you really can’t recycle to care about little old Anderson County’s recycling efforts.
That’s probably for the best, because we’ll figure this out much more efficiently and effectively without the feds, anyway.
In the meantime, Mr. Anti-Taxation (that’s me) apologizes for a good deed gone awry, and is sorry that more money than expected is being spent on recycling in part because of my free ad offer.
I’ll try not to let it happen again.