RECYCLING

The issue: County looks to curbside recycling.

Our opinion: Curbside recycling needs to happen as does mandatory garbage.

As if there is not already enough angst over the clock ticking toward a decision on universal trash collection, the county has postponed another decision for that date: curbside recycling.

County commissioners recently limited public access to the final remaining free recycling convenience center by deciding the recycling bins at the county landfill will be available only during business hours — 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Saturdays.

At the meeting, they acknowledge recycling is popular, but said recycling centers have become targets for illegal dumping.

Recycling is not only popular; it is mandated by the state. Unfortunately, Citrus has fallen well short of the state’s recycling goals.

In 2012, Citrus had a recycling rate of 25%; the state goal that year was 40%.

In 2017, Citrus had a 48% recycling rate when the state goal was 60%.

In 2018, Citrus’s recycling rate dropped to 39% while the state’s goal is 70%. Citrus was one of 32 counties that had not met the 70% plateau by 2018.

Illegal dumping is just one of the reasons given for the fall off for recycling. The other is economics.

A state grant that helped fund curbside recycling in the late 1980s and 1990s ended.

Several community recycling centers popped up until the bottom fell out of the global market for recyclables.

The grant program ended and that led to the county opening community recycling centers in the early 2000s. Clusters of recycling bins were scattered throughout the county by arrangement with community or neighborhood associations.

Selling recyclables was a money maker for the contract company hauling the recycling material, and community organizations that shared in the profits.

By around 2015, though, those profits began to dwindle and then disappear altogether due to import tariffs placed on China, the world’s largest user of recycled materials.

With no revenue stream, there was no incentive to recycle.

The recycling markets do fluctuate, but much of that has to do with public policy and a lack of education about recycling.

There are solutions. For example, creating tax incentives could make it popular and profitable.

Based on commissioners' three-decade track record when it comes to developing a viable trash collection system that collects all trash, recycles and preserves the life of the landfill we are skeptical they will come up with a solution when the clock stops.

Nevertheless, we once again state the obvious: Curbside recycling needs to happen as does mandatory garbage.