June 13, 2018 — There is no question that the majority of residents of Florence support recycling. In a survey taken last year, nearly 80 percent of residents wanted and were willing to pay for a comprehensive recycling program.
Unfortunately, the specifics of what can be recycled at this time in the Florence area remains confusing to many local consumers. There has been a wider realization over the past year, in Florence and around the world, of the growing amount of plastic related waste making its way into the planets rivers, oceans and landfills. These materials are now being detected in all types of sea creatures and in land-based food chains, creating the potential for long term impacts for humans.
Oregon, at one time a national leader in recycling and reusing materials, has suffered serious setbacks in the last year in the state’s recycling efforts. These setbacks can be attributed, in large part, to the dramatic changes instituted by the Chinese government as to the type of waste materials that the country would accept from America.
The Eugene City Council has taken a proactive approach to dealing with these changes, working with local waste haulers and citizens groups to craft a viable plan to address the communities desire to reuse materials.
The subject of recycling was an area of intense discussion at the May 21 Florence City Council meeting. The debate eventually resulted in changes to what city residents can recycle and what they will now pay for that service.
As of July 1, there will be a three percent increase in fees for solid waste removal. This increase was one percent less than the increase recommended by the consultant hired by the city to determine an equitable removal fee.
The city council also choose to disregard the recommendation made by the Environmental Management Advisory Committee, which also supported a higher increase in fees, mostly due to dramatically increased fuel and personnel costs.
EMAC Chairwoman Maureen Miltenberger said she was disappointed in the process that led to the minimal increase for local haulers.
“All of the members of EMAC have taken our task of solid waste rate review very seriously. Since the beginning of the year we have spent hours listening to Chris Bell’s and staff’s recommendations. We have gone into executive sessions where we reviewed the financial information of our two haulers who provide this necessary service to our community,” Miltenberger said.
She went on to say that the committee realizes the role that EMAC plays in the council’s deliberations and believes that community input is essential for a responsive and transparent rate increase process.
“We decided on the four percent increase as a compromise that our citizens could afford and that was fair, but just barely enough for our haulers to be able to pay their employees a livable wage. Can they do that on a three present wage increase? Based on the information we were provided, I don’t think they can.”
While there remains some uncertainty in the minds of the public as to what can be recycled, there are some clear-cut guidelines that can be followed for many waste materials.
Can be recycled:
Cannot be recycled:
The rate change that takes effect on July 1 will also add a surcharge of 75 cents per cart for residential and commercial customers and a 65-cent per ton charge for bin customers.