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Recycling booming in Berkeley County

February 07, 2000

RecyclingBy BRENDAN KIRBY / Staff Writer

photo: RICHARD T. MEAGHER / staff photographer




INWOOD, W.Va. - With more than two hours to go before closing for the day Monday, the drop-off recycling station here had already seen 65 visitors.

It's a typical day for the Inwood location, which had 6,133 visits last year, up from 2,189 in 1995.

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Since launching drop-off recycling in 1995, Berkeley County has registered a more than fivefold increase in the number of visits to recycling centers.

In 1995, the county recycled 124,735 pounds of material; the figure for last year was more than 1 million pounds.

"There seems to be a very good number of Berkeley County residents that believe in recycling," said Edgar J. Mason, a member of the county Solid Waste Authority, which operates four drop-off locations. "It's a heck of an increase."

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Berkeley County got a late start in recycling compared with other local governments.

Washington County, which instituted a recycling program in 1990, recycled about 1,500 tons of material at 16 spots throughout the county last year, said recycling programs coordinator Harvey Hoch.

Cities and townships in Franklin County, Pa., began phasing in programs in 1990. All but three offer curbside programs, said Sherri Clayton.

Despite Berkeley County's late start, though, recycling program officials expressed enthusiasm for its progress

"The growth has been fantastic. It's been a headache at times," said Clint Hogbin, chairman of the Solid Waste Authority. "I guess you'd say it's been a good headache."

Berkeley County residents who dropped off aluminum cans and newspapers in Inwood Monday seemed to agree.

"Save landfill space. Save our natural resources," said Martinsburg resident Flint Wolfes, explaining why he stops by each month.

Bunker Hill, W.Va., resident Barbara Moreland said she has fallen into the habit of dropping of recycled materials about once a week.

"We don't usually do cans, but we usually do paper," she said. "It saves a lot on trash with all the paper we have. We get a lot of junk mail."

The state legislature passed a law in 1991 mandating county and city governments to develop recycling programs.

Municipalities with more than 10,000 residents, including Martinsburg, were ordered to start curbside recycling.

Counties were given an option.

Governments in the Eastern Panhandle took different approaches to the issue. Jefferson County hired a private hauler to pick up recyclables throughout the county. The program is monitored by the West Virginia Public Service Commission.

Hogbin said Berkeley County officials also considered curbside recycling. But they balked at the cost estimate: $300,000 a year. Curbside recycling would have cost about $3.20 per household each month, he said.

Using the volunteer Solid Waste Authority, one full-time attendant and another part-time employee, the county runs the program for just $56,000 a year.

Hogbin said to expand the number of items that the recycling sites accept and possibly find a company that will recycling computer components and products containing freon. That would put even less stress on the landfills, he said.

"Even after they close, they cost millions and millions to maintain them," he said.

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