The county is assessing whether it is cost efficient to maintain the current recycling program.
The discussion began after Solid Waste Director Fonda Davis told commissioners he had not yet moved the Alligator Point recycling station to a new location across from the fire house. The bins were being moved to a more visible location to discourage people from dumping household trash in the recycling containers.
Eddie Sosebee, representing the Alligator Point Taxpayers Association and the Alligator Point/St. Teresa Association, suggested the bins should not be moved. “I didn’t realize how many people in the community disapproved,” he said.
He said he would like to poll his constituency before a final decision about the location of the recycling center was made.
“Everybody’s mentality is ‘Not in my backyard,’” Commissioner Cheryl Sanders said. “t has to be in somebody’s backyard.”
Chair Smokey Parrish said the recycling station had to be put in a visible area to discourage illegal dumping. Sanders said the county could put security cameras on the site to capture the identity of people breaking the law.
“If we put cameras there and somebody gets caught, then somebody has to be prosecuted,” Parrish said.
“Part of the problem is that what we can sell is worth less than in the past,” said Alan Pierce, the former county director of administrative services who now works as a consultant. “It’s a nationwide problem. I read about it recently.”
Sanders agreed and said the county would enforce the law no matter who was caught. She said she always sought to support her constituents, but could not allow her vote to be based on the preference of a single organization.
Davis then told commissioners the recycling program may be too expensive to continue in any case. “I hate to say it but recycling is not worth it. There’s too much household garbage left in recycle bins,” he said.
“I believe some of these problems would be solved if we had mandatory trash pick up,” Commissioner Noah Lockley said.
Parrish said recycling is important to some people who hope to make the landfill last longer by reusing some materials. He acknowledged a number of problems with the recycling program, including the fact that people steal the aluminum cans from the bins to resell.
Davis said the only recycled commodity that it is profitable to sell is cardboard. He said the county had transported glass to Jacksonville for recycling, but the center there had closed.
“Now the closest place to take glass is Atlanta and they won’t even take our phone calls,” he said.
“How long are we going to do this if we are losing money?” asked Lockley.
Pierce said he recycles. “Some of us just want to feel we are doing the right thing,” he said.
He suggested the county use smaller recycle bins and accept a more limited number of recyclables.
Parrish said lawbreakers would still simply dump their garbage in the area because they knew it was a pick up site.
“If you move the bins they’re still going to put it somewhere,” Commissioner William Massey said. “That’s what happened in Carrabelle. The whole side of the road is plastic and cardboard.”
Sanders asked Davis to break the figures down to specific line items, so as to determine what is cost effective and to come back in two weeks with a report to commissioners.
Commissioner Ricky Jones asked if the county makes money reselling recycled oil. Davis said the county pays $2.25 a gallon for disposal.
“To me oil is different. It’s not biodegradable. It’s not going away,” said Parrish. “To me recycling oil is something we have to do.”