No more changes coming to local recycling...for now

Today was the day that the Fremont County Solid Waste Disposal District Board set aside for the final decision on the recycling program. And the decision was: no changes for now. Earlier this year, the board opted to eliminate glass recycling effective on July 1, due to there being no market for recycling it nearby in a cost-effective manner. A general consensus among the board today was that recycling of paper and cardboard, as well as aluminum, tin and hazardous waste, should continue. However, most of today's discussion was focused on plastics and the costs and community values associated with maintaining or eliminating them from the program. Nearly everyone, including a community stakeholder group, agreed that it made financial sense to stop recycling plastic numbers 3 through 7, which are costly to sort from 1s and 2s, and of which there is generally no market for. Complicating the decision, however, is the fate of Community Entry Services' ability to perform sorting duties. CES was poised to run out of funds to pay its clients to sort by the end of October, but new grant funds will extend their participation through at least December. This is due to changing federal regulations regarding wages. If they end up having to stop sorting, the question remains how much it would cost the county to perform that work (it could be up to two new employees) or if there would be enough community volunteers to fill in the gap. Additionally, if plastics 3-7s were cut, along with closing community drop-off points in Lander and Riverton, how long could that extend CES's ability to participate? Given these complications, Board Member Michael Morgan moved to eliminate recycling all plastics by Dec. 31, 2016, or when CES was no longer able to continue. This ultimately failed in a 3-4 vote. The board members who voted against the motion cited a desire to see if volunteers were a viable option and concerns about the social responsibility of eliminating all plastics from recycling. Stakeholder committee representative Amber Wilson said her committee also recommended the possibility of helping CES raise funds to continue its program as well as the possibility of creating a "waste diversion district," which would be a separate tax-funded entity. Forming special districts is a complicated process, which would likely require a special election for county residents. These potentials are expected to continue to be explored. Another option mentioned today for the first time is the possibility of simply combining all plastics 1-7 together. While the county wouldn't be able to get as much revenue from it as it would for separated 1s and 2s, sorting costs would be all but eliminated. The board is expected to revisit the plastics discussion in a couple months, but for now there will be no changes. #county10 #news