Saturday, April 12, 2008

North County Residents Upset In Paying for Recycling They Do Not Want

Many residents in North St. Louis County are upset that waste haulers may impose a fee for recycling services when they already recycle for Free.

Nancy Drury 87, of Florissant, has been dropping off plastic bottles, newspapers and other items at the city's recycling center "since it opened." She doesn't have to be sold on the environmental benefits. She does, however, have to be sold on being charged for it by her trash hauler, Meridian Waste.

"I'm really mad, and I'll tell you why," Drury said after dropping off a load of recyclables at Florissant's recycling center, adjacent to St. Ferdinand Park. "My bill went from $69 to $84."

Drury is among a number of people who recently found something new on their trash bills - a charge for recycling. And like Drury, many aren't happy about it. The surcharge stems from St. Louis County's new solid waste management code, which requires a minimum level of trash service throughout the county.

Haulers are now required to not only offer recycling services but to bill for it as part of their contract even if citizens already recycle under a different program or method. Although county officials stress that recycling is voluntary, charging for it isn't.

District 4 County Councilman Mike O'Mara, who was council president when the new code was adopted, said it was a tough decision that the County Council had to make. But O'Mara along with several other Council members refuse to take a look at the many serious problems that have resulted and to take steps to correct them. "No one's against recycling, but we should not have to pay for it twice if we're already recycling" said one homeowner.

Still, the idea of requiring people to pay for something they already do on their own or for a service they don't want has people like Stacy Barlow of Florissant and Bernice V. Coleman of Berkeley upset. Barlow, who bought her own bins and brings items to the recycling center three times a week, said it's the principle involved. "I have no problem recycling," Barlow said as she and her son, Brandon, unloaded their car at the Florissant Recycling Center. "But not to be given the choice and with people on fixed incomes, that's too much."

Coleman, 79, recently complained to the Berkeley City Council after the city's hauler, IESI, included a charge for recycling services on her bill. "Why should I be giving my money for a service I don't use?" Coleman asked.

Florissant Mayor Robert Lowery said the city was deluged with calls from residents complaining about the recycling charge. Since then, officials in Florissant, as well as in St. Ann, have received permission to delay implementing the recycling fees. County officials said St. Ann's contract with Allied Waste was in place on Jan. 1 and that it could delay complying with the county ordinance until March 2009.

Lowery said the city is exploring if residents can be granted an exemption from the recycling provision if the city already is recycling 40 percent of its trash. Lowery said the recycling requirement has been delayed until November.

O'Mara said it's been delayed at least until July."(Florissant) residents should not be paying for recycling," O'Mara said. "We have a window right now. "The county has only one landfill that's not filled to capacity, O'Mara said.In addition to saving landfill space, recycling also has economic benefits because it's a multimillion-dollar business in the county, he said. John W. Haasis, manager of the county's solid waste program, agreed that it's a critical time for trash collection in the county.

The more waste that's recycled, the less residents will eventually pay, he said. What? St. Louis County will actually lower the costs if there is more recycling? How gullible do you think county residents are?

Single-stream recycling is also easier for residents, he said. Recycled materials don't have to be sorted. The county has begun delivering 64- and 35-gallon recycling containers to one- and two-family residences in the unincorporated area, he said.

O'Mara said he and Delores Gunn, director of the county's health department, have been meeting with subdivision representatives in the unincorporated area to make the case for recycling.

Richard Krueger, energy resources coordinator with the Community Action Agency of St. Louis County, who was at a recycling event Saturday in Overland, said the county is playing catch-up with other parts of the country. He said California has been recycling for 30 years. "And it works," he said. "The problems we have today with our environment started one person at a time, and that's the way to get it back in shape."Linda Schuelz, an Overland resident and active recycler, looks to the future. "If (residents) want their grandchildren to have a good life and environment, they better start doing something now," she said. "We should have been doing something years ago."

Hey People!! No one is against recycling. The problem is paying for it twice. Not having the right to change to another recycler. Paying for it when a house sits empty on the market for two years. Paying for it when the homeowner winters in Florida for 4-6 months out of the year.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous8:59 AM

    It is not only seniors that utilized the free recycle programs. Many schools, many organizatins, many church groups, and many scout troops also used and raised funds with the free recycle services offered.

    By the County mandating curb side services, only the companies and and resource centers will benefit.

    People will quit supplying recycling benefits to charity groups as well as local efforts, because they are forced to pay for something that was serving the area greater need.

    This program is more loose - loose, than win - win. It is like Robin Hood in reverse, taking from the poor and giving to the rich.

    This is a poorly devised and implemented plan, and St. Louis County is responsible for this fiasco.