Published: Jun 19, 2007 - 11:19:49 pm EDT
Recycling to be
mandatory? Compromise bill may be voted on soon in House
By Drew Volturo, Delaware
DOVER -- Lawmakers pushing two separate curbside
residential recycling bills have reached a compromise on legislation that would
be mandatory and charge a $3 per ton assessment on solid waste.
measure, a combination of two bills that had their supporters and detractors,
was being shopped around Legislative Hall Tuesday and could find its way to the
House of Representatives floor for a vote soon.
"We have been doing
voluntary recycling for several years and can't get much above 15 percent
(participation among residents)," said Rep. Pamela S. Maier, R-Newark, who is
sponsoring the compromise legislation.
"I don't want folks to be afraid
of the word 'mandatory,' which always raises red flags."
originally sponsored a bill that would mandate curbside residential recycling,
while Gov. Ruth Ann Minner backed legislation calling for voluntary recycling
and setting up a $3 per ton assessment.
The compromise measure
incorporates many of the tenets of the Minner-backed legislation, including the
assessment, which would create a fund to help with startup costs associated with
recycling programs, and the establishment of recycling goals.
of Natural Resources and Environmental Control John A. Hughes said his
department could live with the mandatory recycling bill, but he prefers the
original voluntary measure because it would be more palatable to legislators and
"We agree with getting recycling started, planting the seeds,"
Mr. Hughes said.
"We will reach the point when the majority of people see
how well recycling functions and the costs are balanced out by large-scale
Then, Mr. Hughes said, adopting a mandatory system would
be less controversial.
He noted that his hometown of Rehoboth Beach
has implemented voluntary curbside recycling through Delaware Solid Waste
Authority and many of his neighbors already have signed up for the
Mr. Hughes said he is concerned that mandatory recycling might
not pass, and the voluntary proposal might end up on the cutting room floor as
Clean Air Council community outreach director James Black said he
would have preferred a mandatory recycling bill without the assessment, which is
estimated to cost the average household 38 cents a month.
recycling is not as much of a problem as it used to be because people realize to
reach the goals we set, it has to be mandatory," Mr. Black said.
better to have a compromise bill now because every year we wait, the trash in
the landfills is going to pile that much higher."
But Delaware Solid
Waste Authority CEO Pasquale "Pat" Canzano said not establishing the assessment
while requiring recycling creates an unfunded mandate, which often is difficult
"(The bill) provides the ability for public and private entities
to apply for grants for recycling programs, which should increase the amount of
recycling," Mr. Canzano said.
Under the legislation, a recycling fund
would be established and financed by a $3 per ton assessment on all solid waste
-- excluding recyclables -- collected and/or disposed of in Delaware.
money, Deputy DNREC Secretary David Small said, would be available to private
companies, municipalities and community organizations as startup funds for
recycling programs and could be used to purchase equipment, such as a truck or
Once a local government reaches a recycling rate of
30 percent, it would not be assessed the $3 a ton surcharge.
point, around 30-40 percent recycling, towns would be saving enough in tipping
and disposal fees to cover recycling costs," Mr. Small said.
would the mandatory component of the legislation be enforced?
J. Valihura Jr., R-Wilmington, a sponsor of the original voluntary recycling
bill and co-sponsor of the compromise measure, said there are mechanisms in
place to ensure the program's success.
Refuse brought to a landfill
already is inspected for contraband, asbestos and other contaminants. If trash
haulers start bringing in refuse with too many recyclables, the landfills would
reject the loads and could fine the haulers, Rep. Valihura said.
DNREC, he said, would develop the exact process.
The measure carries the
goal of increasing Delaware's recycling from 15 percent to 30 percent recycling
by 2010 and 51 percent by 2015.
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Staff writer Drew Volturo can be reached at