Since there was some disagreement last year among the cities in Portage County regarding the direction of recycling services in the County, the Ohio EPA ended up stepping in to try to reconcile the differing opinions and complete the mandated solid waste plan on Portage County’s behalf.
Probably nothing is more local than trash and recycling services and as a result, it’s not easy to get a group of cities to agree on the specific points contained in a county-wide solid waste plan which to some extent is looking to lock cities in to either private or public recycling services. Each of the City’s in Portage County support and practice recycling — it’s the “how” it get’s done question that’s been the hang up.
For decades the Portage County Solid Waste Management District took on the challenge of developing recycling services at a time when most secondary material markets where too immature to be economically viable for profit minded businesses to jump in. So for years the County made investments to build the collection, processing and marketing networks that make up what today is an effective recycling infrastructure.
So effective in fact that the private sector has begun to seize the opportunity to turn a buck by offering essentially the same recycling services that the County offers. Competition is a good thing as long as the playing field is level and that’s the heart of the debate that is confounding Portage County cities — do they keep signing up with recycling services with Portage County or is it time to make a switch to a private recycler?
I don’t know if there is a universal right or wrong answer — it’s very dependent upon each city’s circumstances — and that’s what’s made building consensus around a solid waste plan so difficult.
The Ohio EPA is taking a run at it and they have announced the completion of the updated Portage County Solid Waste Management Plan and now it’s time to run it by each of the cities for their decision on what direction (public or private) they plan to go.
Kent City Council will be reviewing our options at our March 4th Council meeting.
Here’s the details from the Ohio EPA:
I am pleased to let you know that the Portage County Solid Waste Management District (District) Plan, prepared by Ohio EPA in accordance with the Ohio Revised Code, has been finalized and approved. As of February 20, 2015, the new approved plan will guide the operations of the District until a new plan can be drafted, ratified and approved (most likely in 2019).
The plan can be found online at http://www.co.portage.oh.us/
Ohio EPA received a number of public comments between December 8, 2014 – January 2, 2015 and several minor changes and clarifications were made to the plan in response. However, the fundamental concepts presented in the draft plan released in December 2014 remains the same. Highlights of the plan include:
- · The District will upgrade its infrastructure to single-stream collection which will improve efficiency and performance;
- · Communities may choose to use any recycling hauler for their curbside recycling service, including the Portage County SWMD;
- · The District will further study the Drop-Off system and recommend changes for improvements by October 2016;
- · A new emphasis on education and community outreach activities; and
- · A new partnership between the District, Portage County Health Department, and Portage County Sheriff will better tackle illegal dumping.
The District will now implement programs in accordance with the plan as required by the Ohio Revised Code. Ohio EPA views the District as a strong partner and we look forward to a positive working relationship with the District over the coming years. We firmly believe this plan will set the District up for continued success now and into the future.
If you have not previously reviewed the Plan, I encourage you to do so. If you have any questions regarding the process, please contact me. If you have questions on specific District programs, I encourage you to contact the District directly.
Finally, thank you to everyone who participated in the process over the last several years (during both the local and Ohio EPA versions). This final plan is the combined result of all those many meetings and discussions. The process isn’t always as simple as we would hope, but in the end we have a plan that addresses the desires and interests of a wide variety of stakeholders.