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Tell officials to support recycling building

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To the editor:
On behalf of the Anderson County Environmental Community, I would like to provide some factual information to clear up the editorial from Nov.7, “Tell magistrates to protect Earth and your wallet.”
Last spring, the committee, with support and approval from both the county and city, applied for and received a $125,000 grant to purchase equipment to improve Anderson’s recycling program.  
To date, the county has operated a curbside collection program, where participation has improved from 750 to more than 1,100 in the last couple years.
This service has been provided at no cost to the participants.
However, the cost to run the program has certainly increased and the county has struggled to maintain the program, having to borrow help from other departments within the county.
Without some change, the county will not be able to handle much more increase in participation. But our goal would be able to have all residents and businesses participating. We agreed to change from curbside service to a drop-off service, as has been proven by many counties across the country to be much more cost effective.
Currently, there are more than 357 drop offs in Kentucky for recycling and only 38 curbside recycling programs. This is due primarily to the high cost of curbside collection, especially in rural areas.
The new program will include nine drop-off trailer locations, one placed at Walmart, which most of us visit on a weekly basis. A drop-off trailer will be located at every school as well, which will serve both the school system and any residents that wish to use them.
These locations should be convenient as well, given the majority of our population is within the city limits. We will also have two or three trailers placed in the county to help those that are further out. This is hardly “sprinkled around the county” as stated in the editorial.
The grant also included equipment to process our recyclables, such as a baler and a skid steer loader, both of which are necessary to be efficient at recycling. The grant process requires that the county match a portion of the grant. So, the county committed money to build two unloading ramps and a building to house the new equipment and process some of the recyclables. An analysis of the operating costs before and after shows that operating costs should NOT increase. The editorial threw out a $600,000 per year operating cost based on Woodford County’s program. The committee has estimated our program to remain at less than $100,000 per year, not including revenues.  
Current revenues for our recyclables run over $30,000 per year, which we expect to more than double over just the next few years, based on other county programs the state helped implement. But, of course that depends on everyone’s willingness to participate.  
Last week’s editorial stated our county’s participation rate “doesn’t figure to improve once curbside stops” due to the need to haul recyclables somewhere.
The trend we’re already seeing at the county recycle center, where you have to drive to drop off, is an increase in participation.
Also, the recycling rate in Kentucky, even with the vast majority done through drop off programs is more than 34 percent. Anderson County is currently well below this average.
With regard to the building cost, the estimate has significantly increased from what we included in the application. Why? The county looked at some other programs around the state to learn from their programs. In trying to be proactive and responsible with the taxpayers’ money, the new design, though more expensive initially, would save money down the road as the program expands. Eventually, we would like to offer recycling for other wastes to reduce even more of what goes to the landfill. Already, we have started a carpet recycling program, which virtually no other county in the state has done. The county has just recently started recycling vinyl siding. Both of these were implemented as a cost savings. And, there are more opportunities.  
In summary, if we manage this program well and get good community participation, we can make this a very successful program. The Environmental Committee, the county and city will continue to work together and do our best job to make this happen.  
Our goal is to protect the Earth, which we intend to do. We made a commitment to the community and to the state to implement this program. The state is supporting our initiative through funding of the grant, which they would not do if they thought it would not be successful.
So please, tell your magistrates to support the program we have already begun; it will cost the taxpayers much less in the long run than a program like mandatory trash pick up.
As I have stated before, anyone is welcome to attend our Environmental Committee meetings to just listen or to help participate. Any questions can be directed to the County Judge’s office by phone at 839-3471 or by e-mail (cherylpeach@nich.twcbc.com).

David Steedly
Environmental Committee