Wednesday, July 6, 2011

County: Recycling facility needs direction

Goal-setting public hearing ahead


By KATHERINE WUTZ
Express Staff Writer

Blaine County commissioners said Tuesday that a switch to single-stream recycling may be warranted, but that more information is needed before making changes to operations at the Blaine County Recycling Center.

Commissioner Tom Bowman said that while county Director of Operations Char Nelson's report on single-stream recycling last week was informative, the goals of the current recycling center are unclear.

Goals of the recycling center could include anything from diverting waste from the landfill at Milner Butte to reducing the energy used to process solid waste in the county, Bowman said, and the systems to accomplish those goals could be very different.

Processing plastic, especially, might be using more energy then sending the plastic to a landfill, an environmental impact that may not be mitigated by the benefits of waste diversion, he said.

Bowman and Commissioner Larry Schoen said they were concerned that a recycling program actually encourages more plastic consumption because people focus on recycling rather than reuse.

"Recycling makes all of us feel good," Schoen said. "The question is, is it the most responsible thing to do?"

Commissioner Angenie McCleary said the public should weigh in on the center's goals and potential changes.

"Do people want a different system? Maybe the system we have now is best," she said.

The commissioners agreed not to change the method of recycling at the center until a public hearing can be scheduled in September. McCleary said the hearing may result in the formation of a committee that could propose changes to the system if they are deemed necessary.

Katherine Wutz: kwutz@mtexpress.com




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