Recycling in full swing in Berkeley, Jefferson counties

April 26, 2011|By RICHARD F. BELISLE |
  • Scott Bivens of Martinsburg, W.Va., dumps leaves at the Grapevine Road center in Berkeley County, W.Va.
By Richard F. Belisle, Staff Writer

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — Berkeley County citizens concerned about the environment work harder than those in Jefferson County when it comes to recycling glass, paper, cans, metal and plastic bottles.

Berkeley Countians must sort and separate everything and personally take it to the county's two recycling centers — a five-acre facility in South Berkeley County near Inwood, W.Va., and a four-acre one on Grapevine Road near Martinsburg. The county has a small part-time center at the Eagle Plaza in Hedgesville.

Jefferson County has had mandatory curbside recycling ever since it was voted into place by the County Commissioners in the early 1990s, said Jim McGowen, chairman of that county's Solid Waste Authority.

Residents put cans, plastic bottles, paper, everything into a small plastic bin and set it out on the curb for once-a-week pickup. The service, including a weekly regular trash pickup, costs an average homeowner $77.61 every three months, paid to a private hauler.

Recycling is not mandatory in Berkeley County.

Clint Hogbin, solid waste authority chairman, said the Berkeley County Council voted to raise its annual contribution to the agency by $10,000, to $78,000, for the new fiscal year.

"This is a big deal for us. We're grateful. We know it was a tough decision," he said. It was the first increase since 2008, he said.

The money will be combined with the authority's own $56,000, which it receives from tipping fees at the LCS Services Landfill on Allensville Road in Hedgesville, some state grants and the estimated $93,000 it expects to make from the sale of recyclable materials.

"We'll be able to keep the program operating at its current level," Hogbin said. "It means we can go back to operating the centers six days a week, Monday through Saturday and undo some of the cuts we had to make."

In 2010, the centers took in 4,410 tons of material, all for free except for a $5 donation for TV sets and computer monitors. "None of it went to a landfill," Hogbin said.

Kevin Whaples, the attendant at the Grapevine Road facility, one of two full-time authority employees, said vehicles come to the center "in droves. Last year the estimate was nearly 99,000 vehicles, personal, business and government.

Materials are dropped into trailers and large roll-off containers, a concrete bunker that separates glass by color — green and blue, brown and gold, clear. Bins separate steel and aluminum cans, others are for yard and lumber waste, clothes, shoes and books, used motor oil and antifreeze, batteries and those new curly fluorescent light bulbs. Tape cassettes, CDs and VCRs, plus cell phones and print cartridges have a place as does all kinds of paper, from newsprint and magazines to labels and office paper.

"If it's paper we accept it," Hogbin said.

Whaples spends a lot of time at the plastic bottle bins to make sure no one drops off something without a correct number code that's found in a small triangle on the bottom of each container. "Only ones and twos can be dropped off here," he said. "Threes to sevens have to go to Inwood."

The lack of a sound recycling program would lead to open dumping, unnecessary utilization of landfill space and the waste of natural resources, Councilman Anthony Petrucci, the council's representative on the Solid Waste Authority, said in news release.

McGowen said Jefferson County recycles an estimated 170 tons of commingled materials every month. It all goes to Waste Management's Recycle America facility in Elkridge, Md., where it is separated and sold to firms who turn it into useful goods.

McGowen said of Jefferson County's commingling program; "The easier we make it, the more people get involved."

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