As Crawford County's voluntary countywide recycling program enters its final days, residents are left with few options if they want to continue recycling.
The familiar blue bins at eight sites across the county where people can take recyclable items shuts down for good starting Tuesday. All the sites could be closed by Friday.
The public dumping all types of materials into the bins and contaminating the recyclable material, a new financial penalty for contaminated materials in the bins, decreased funding and a drop in the commodity price of recyclables are cited by the authority as reasons for the closure.
Signs posted at the sites indicate they are closed and encourage the public to obtain recycling services from Tri-County Industries or Braun's Refuse.
Tri-County offers free recycling and a recycling cart to its residential customers, and Braun's charges its residential customers minimal fee for recycling but accept a broader range of materials for recycling, according to the county Solid Waste Authority, which run the voluntary recycling program. People must have trash service from either Braun's or Tri-County to obtain recycling services.
If residents are a Braun's or Tri-County customer through a municipal contract, such as Saegertown, they then will be directed to speak to their local municipal officials to ask to have recycling included in the municipality's next refuse collection bid, according to the authority.
Lisbet Searle-White, the authority's chair, and Brenda Schmidt, recycling coordinator, said the defining factor in stopping the drop off program came about a week ago from Waste Management Inc., which hauls the recyclables under contract with the authority.
Waste Management will assess a $200 penalty for each contaminated load of recyclable materials as of Jan. 1, 2018. Waste Management also notified the authority that plastic bags will be considered a contaminant.
"Every load we produce at those bins could be considered contaminated," Schmidt said.
The authority has a minimum of three loads of material each week — and at times up to five loads, according to Schmidt. When considering a $200 fine for each of three loads each week, that's an added expense of $600 per week or $31,200 for a year, she said.
"There is no possible way for the authority to absorb that cost even if we had full funding and there is no viable way to prevent contamination at the sites," she said. "We're heart-broken to have to end it, but people can get recycling through Tri-County and Braun's if they're a customer."
Now that the county recycling program is on its way out, what do you plan to do with your recyclables? Send us a Sound-Off and vote on the poll at meadvilletribune.com.