City Recycling Program

Posted by Spalding Hurst

March 24, 2008

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The City of Bardstown will make its entry into recycling later this year. For a growing number of residents, adopting a recycling plan is coming none too soon. Others are apt to be a bit more wary and perhaps even a bit skeptical as to benefits vs. costs of recycling.

The city’s approach — taking baby steps into a program rather than diving head first without knowing if there’s water in the pool — seems to be a wise one. What the city intends is to form a cooperative effort with Nelson County and Nelson County Industries. The plan calls for establishing two centralized drop sites, unmanned, one in the city and the other in the county, for persons to drop off recyclables. To begin, the city plans to accept No. 1 and 2 plastics, mixed paper, aluminum, cans and cardboard. At this point glass will not be accepted. Local government is hoping to receive a grant, paying for about six trailers with multiple bins.

This will be an excellent way to gauge true community interest in recycling. Lots of people can talk a good game; proof in the pudding will be measured in tonnage.
Some are disappointed that curbside service is not being offered. There are known positives and negatives, however, with curbside programs. More than 10 years ago, a piece in The New York Times Magazine seriously questioned the benefits, charging that “recycling may be the most wasteful activity in modern America” and noting curbside service “uses more energy than it serves.”

There are certainly those who would rebuff such statements as it is clear that basic recycling of aluminum, cans, glass, and plastics has far-reaching benefits to the environment.

While there is some debate whether curbside recycling is more or less expensive than regular trash pickup, everyone agrees there are costs involved. Is it government’s responsibility to subsidize the costs? Are those clamoring for curbside service willing to pay $8, $10, $12 or more per month (in addition to their garbage bill)?

Thus, the city’s direction in entering recycling slowly is not only a start but is a calculated decision that makes sense. As we go down the green walkway, also we are reminded of the adage of employing the two R’s (reduce and reuse) before the third R (recycling) even becomes an option. Now that is something on which all of us can agree.

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