By MARK TODD - firstname.lastname@example.org
CONNEAUT — Curbside recycling could become a reality in Conneaut and Ashtabula in 2013, Conneaut’s City Council learned at Tuesday night’s regular meeting.
The Ashtabula County Solid Waste District is obliged to enhance its recycling opportunities to meet state requirements, and curbside pickup in the county’s two biggest cities would help meet that goal, said Michael Greenberg, owner of GT Environmental Inc., a consulting firm with offices in Westerville and Akron.
GT has been hired by the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency to complete the county’s solid waste management plan, and a big component is recycling, Greenberg told council. The state wants Ashtabula County to make recycling accessible to 90 percent of its residents. Presently, 54 percent have access, thanks to drop-off bins found in some communities.
Several choices exist to integrate curbside recycling with regular trash pickup, Greenberg said. He requested council create a committee that GT could work with to find the best solution.
“There are lots of options here,” Greenberg said. “We need to sit down and identify the needs of the city.”
Among the options is bidding out trash collection/recycling work to one hauler, Greenberg said. The benefit would be lower disposal rates to customers and one trash pickup day for the entire city. Smaller hauling companies could also team up to handle the work, he said. Recycling will be a free service to residents, Greenberg said. Communities could also launch a “pay as you throw” program, whereby customers’ disposal cost is determined by the amount of garbage they want picked up.
The Ohio EPA wants to have Ashtabula County’s plan for recycling compliance completed by the end of spring 2013, Greenberg said.
Conneaut residents are among the county’s biggest recyclers, said Janice Switzer, of the county’s recycling/community services office. The city has two drop-off bins, and each is replaced with an empty one each weekday, she said. The program, however, is very expensive to provide, Switzer said.
“Drop-off recycling is not sustainable,” she said. “We’ve been losing money on it for years and years.”
The bins would remain in the cities, Switzer said.
Curbside recycling is already in place in Geneva, officials said.
In other business, City Manager Tim Eggleston said state lawmakers are mulling a change in how Ohio’s Development Services Agency distributes community development block grant funding. On the table is a proposal that would require a community to have a population of least 15,000 to receive funding directly. Otherwise communities would have to compete with like-sized entities for money that would be distributed by county commissioners.