Residents recycling more, but businesses less

While residential recycling has increased, commercial recycling has not – in fact, it’s decreased.

There were fewer tons of recycled materials from businesses in the 2012 calendar year than the year before, Resource Recovery Manager Jason Yorks told the county commissioners Tuesday.

The reported commercial recycled tonage was down by 2,418 tons, Yorks said. The combined total of commercial and residential recycled tonage in calendar year 2012 was 10,720. In 2011, 13,055 tons were recycled, Yorks said.

The good news, however, is residential recycling is up by 83 tons, Yorks reported, which means residents are recycling more.

While the exact reason as to why commercial recycling is down is unknown at this point, a variety of factors come into play.

One of the difficulties is the ability to hold businesses accountable. Under Act 101, the area is a “mandated community,” which means companies are required to report their recycled tonage.

Every January, county landfill officials send forms to businesses requesting reported recycled tonage, Yorks said. However, some businesses don’t respond, and the county landfill doesn’t have the resources to track them down, he said.

“Enforcement is difficult. … We try to hound as many businesses as we can,” Yorks said.

It’s also difficult to track companies moving in and out of the area in part due to the natural gas boom; some companies the landfill mails to may not be in the area, anymore, Yorks said.

Additionally, the economy plays into it. “If people aren’t buying, companies aren’t recycling,” he said.

This poses a problem when it comes time to request a performance grant from the Department of Environmental Protection, because the grant’s dollar amount is based on the amount reported in the county, Yorks said. The commissioners are expected to approve such an annual performance grant for the county landfill Thursday.

Tommie Smith, county Emergency Management Agency administrative assistant, is asking the commissioners to approve a federal fiscal year 2011 Citizen Corps Program grant application to the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency (PEMA) for $15,500.

PEMA will begin awarding grants Oct. 14 through June 2014. If awarded to the county, the grant will be used for Community Emergency Response Team training, where citizens can sign up to learn basic first aid and other skills to respond to emergencies.