EMAC looks to change recycling equation

City Councilors praise committee's work on environment

Feb. 10, 2018 — Florence’s Environmental Management Advisory Committee (EMAC) met for the first time in 2018 on Tuesday evening at the Florence Events Center.

The committee began their work by taking public comments from the audience.

Two prominent community members took the opportunity to address the group, Mayor Joe Henry and City Councilor Joshua Greene.

Henry told the committee that he felt the work it is engaged in is vital to Florence, citing the recently approved city ordinances modifying takeout food containers, as an example of the positive impact EMAC has on the city.

“I just wanted to thank you for the great job you did on the styrofoam issue, that is something that will be very beneficial to our community in the long run,” Henry said.

He also wanted to clarify his position on the issue of climate change as it relates to work the committee has done and will do in the future.

“I want you to know how much I appreciate the work you are involved in and the positive impact your work has on our community,” Henry said. “I really think your contributions are an important part of our city’s team effort and I really value your contributions and hard work.”

Committee members thanked him for taking the time to speak with them and said they appreciated the positive words spoken on their behalf.

Greene was the second and final public speaker of the evening.

He began by reiterating Henry’s words concerning the importance of the work EMAC was doing. He than went on to suggest a larger role for the group as the city addresses a growing number of environmentally-related issues.

Greene spoke specifically about the recent setbacks in recycling in the Pacific Northwest, particularly as regards to plastics.

The councilor spoke about the possibility of turning a statewide problem into a long-term opportunity for local residents.

According to Greene, the lack of recycling options available to Oregonians might best be addressed by a concerted effort to create an industrial solution to the plastics issue, saying there is an opportunity to turn a currently negative situation into one that might ultimately provide good jobs for local residents.

“The vision I am sharing is to have a facility here that takes everybody’s plastic, whoever wants to bring it to us, and create a business with however many employees it needs to take plastic from it’s original form, break it down to the appropriate form and turn it into usable products that can then be sold,” Greene said.

He provided handouts to EMAC members with examples of recycled plastic products and companies that are currently involved in turning waste products into saleable merchandise.

The committee said it was  interested in the possibility of addressing the plastics situation in Florence and discussion commenced immediately on how and when the process suggested by Greene could begin.

Following the discussion, the 2018 committee members were formally introduced. Maureen Miltenberger was elevated to chairperson and Linda Serbus was voted in as vice-chair. Both votes were unanimous.

Miltenberger was enthusiastic about the issues awaiting EMAC.

“My first year on EMAC was wonderful and this year looks to be even better. Who knew that meeting monthly to talk about garbage and recycling could be interesting and even exciting?” she asked. “Although I am a little apprehensive about being the chairperson, mostly because I will be attempting to fill the shoes of David Lloyd, our past chair, with the support of Linda Serbus our vice chair, and the rest of our group I am sure things will go smoothly.”

The group then discussed the issues to be considered by EMAC this year, creating a work plan that included scheduling discussions on waste rate collection fees, plastic bags and potential changes to the upcoming Black and White waste collection event.

The meeting was adjourned after scheduling the next EMAC meeting for March 6.

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