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[greenyes] Follow-Up Recycling Curtailment

Greenyes Colleagues,

As a follow-up to my last post about the general health of recycling
programs, the two most notable program curtailments of which I'm aware,
NYC and a small municipality here in NC, have been reversed and the
programs reinstated in some form or fashion after having been totally
suspended. I'll leave the details of Gotham's program suspension and
reinstatement to those more closely affiliated with it, although it
certainly garnered national attention when it was suspended. I thought
it might interest the list-serve to know about the community here where
I work and live.

Walkertown, a small municipality here in Forsyth County, NC suspended
its recycling program two years ago due to an imminent budget crisis.
The elected officials cited poor participation (<25%) and high costs
($38,000/year). They were receiving once/week recycling service from
WMI, the contracted collector. Walkertown has a relatively high
proportion of seniors in its population base. The age of the population
was one of the reasons given for the low participation rates. After the
town council voted to suspend the program there were several passionate
defenders of the program, both young and old, who came to the next town
council meeting to speak in support of continuing the program. Although
the speeches made by the program supporters were convincing and
impassioned, the council did not overturn their decision to suspend the
program. the program was terminated on July 1, 2003.

The town now has newly elected officials (it has been suggested that
some were voted off due to not supporting the recycling program) and one
of their immediate tasks was to find funding for the recycling program.
They did so and have reinstated it with service once every two weeks,
adequate for this community. The program is scheduled to start again on
July 1, 2004.

It is this kind of political activism and perseverance that gives me
hope that local recycling programs will continue to be a part of the
government landscape for years to come. As John Reindl put it, it's not
only about the immediate financial gains/losses of the program but also
about the less quantifiable long-term environmental benefits.


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