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Alternative curbside recycling plan mulled for Mahoning

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

By Peter H. Milliken


The future of curbside recycling in Mahoning County remains unclear.

The county’s recycling director told the county solid- waste policy committee he is working on an alternative to an earlier proposal that would have radically changed the county’s curbside recycling program.

Lou Vega, however, declined to elaborate on the alternative at the Tuesday meeting.

“I am doing some homework right now that I will not be able to unveil probably until next month,” Vega told the committee.

Under the proposal the committee sent to the county commissioners and auditor late last year, the 18-gallon, open-topped recycling tubs would be replaced with 96-gallon wheeled carts with lids.

Under that plan, the county would have borrowed $3.1 million at zero interest for nine or 10 years to buy 47,575 carts to be lifted automatically and dumped into collection trucks. It would have paid off the loan from savings achieved by closing 13 of the county’s 29 recycling drop-off sites.

The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency said, however, adopting that proposal would require an amendment and re-ratification of the county’s solid-waste plan by the governing bodies of the county’s cities, villages and townships.

“Based on that level of speed bumps that the state is putting in, I’m thinking that we squash the idea,” Vega told the committee.

Vega also said Republic Services, which provides free curbside-recycling pickup to some 97,000 county homes, cannot commit the number of collection trucks needed for the carts program as it initially was proposed.

Vega said, however, “We still believe that the cart program is the future of recycling in Mahoning County.”

Patricia Sweeney, county health commissioner, asked how other communities have managed to initiate a curbside-carts program.

“Other communities pay for it. That’s the difference,” Vega replied.

Republic provides the free curbside-recycling collections here under a host agreement for Republic’s Carbon-Limestone landfill in Poland Township, Vega explained.

Michael Heher, Carbon-Limestone landfill manager, observed that some communities require trash haulers to collect recyclables.

“We are committed to the carts system, and we do it in Liberty. We do it in Howland. It works, and it improves recycling,” Heher said.