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County recycling to rev up again

By Judith Pannebaker BCC Editor

Bandera County Commissioners recently conducted a recycled discussion on recycling since county contracts for that service, as well as for trash collection, are again up for grabs.

During a meeting on Thursday, May 9, commishes attempted to reach a consensus and decide - once and for all - on an across-the-board, same-for-all-residents recycling program. At present, the programs appear to be different in each precinct.
And recycling is hardly the "cash cow" that was previously promised. According to Auditor Christiana Moeller, from Oct. 12, 2011 through Sept. 23, 2012, the county received a total of only $2,285 for its recycling efforts in all four precincts.

Commissioners - and everyone else - had assumed trash collection and recycling had been taken care of in August 2011, but it was not so. Prices originally quoted by Waste Management escalated due to a fuel surcharge so the county switched to Greenstar Recycling.

"Then Waste Management bought out Greenstar and we're back to where we started," said Precinct 2 Commissioner Bobby Harris. He advocated going out for bids for both components, saying, "Right now, we're paying $500 for a roll-off container and I think we can beat that." Harris also suggested entering into a contract directly with a recycler and bypassing the middleman. "That could save us $100 a pull," he said. Currently, the county is on a month-to-month contract with Waste Management.

Other savings, Harris said, comes from a steel-recycling program, similar to a one at work in Precinct 2. "The county just received a check for $420 for recycled steel," he said. "We get half of the market value of the load."
All commissioners agreed that single stream recycling is problematic. Precinct 3 Commissioner Andy Wilkerson cited contamination from people throwing garbage bags into the single-stream recycling bin. "If it's contaminated, the whole thing goes to the landfill," Wilkerson said. "If we don't have individual bins, someone will have to stand and watch that garbage isn't put in the recycling bin."

"We have to decide what we want and stick to it," Judge Richard Evans said. "It should be the same throughout the county."

Reiterating "single stream invites contamination," Harris suggested that all metal be separated. He said he was also looking to secure a glass crusher for the county, possibly paid for by a grant from the Lower Colorado River Authority.

"I have a 20-yard bin filled with glass that's huge and heavy," Harris said. If crushed, glass could be used in road construction. "If each precinct could recycle steel, that's $2,000 a month we could put towards the purchase of a glass crusher," he said. Harris added that the glass crusher would be transported to the various precincts for on-site crushing. He offered to research the program and bring a report back to the court.

Regarding the disposal of tires and batteries, it was decided that batteries could not be taken care of by the county. Employees with the road and bridge department could transport tires for disposal in San Antonio without charge, saving the county a $750 fee. Additionally, Harris noted that Collin County has a machine that shreds tires for an annual savings of $93,000. It was suggested, "You might want to talk to that county because we have illegally dumped tires all over the county."

Whatever is decided, a uniform method of collection of recycling mater has to be implemented across the county, Evans reiterated.

On Thursday, May 23, commissioners will approve a Request for Proposals for both solid waste equipment and disposal and possibly contract the recycling component in segments. "If we do this right, we could save $12,000 a year," Harris said.

"Whatever we do, we don't want recycling to start costing the taxpayers," Evans said.
Additionally, as a public service, the Courier was asked to inform the general public that paint in its liquid form is considered hazardous waste and, as such, cannot be placed in garbage cans or dumpsters - nor can it be poured on the ground. However, if the paint is thoroughly dried up - and not just a solid skim on the surface - it can be legally disposed of in garbage cans and dumpsters.