Opinion

Recycling fees are fair | Editorial

On Dec. 7, the San Juan County Council approved a package of recycling fees designed to help stabilize the finances of the Solid Waste Division.

Come Jan. 1, you’ll pay $5 for 1 cubic yard or up to six 32-gallon cans; $25 for 1-2 cubic yards or up to 12 cans; and $50 for more than 2 cubic yards or more than 12 cans. You’ll be able to drop off a shopping bag of recyclables for free when you drop off your garbage.

The $5 fee will apply to most islanders. And it troubles us to hear people say that the fee will discourage people from recycling, and that the result will mean recyclables will end up in the trash.

Over $5?

The fee is not excessive. It’s reasonable. And it ensures that those who use the waste transfer station for recycling help pay the costs of making the site available for the service.

People who use the solid waste transfer station for recycling are using the solid waste transfer station. The station must be manned by an hourly employee. The recycling area must be maintained. The road and facilities are equally impacted by those delivering recycling and those delivering refuse.

There is nothing wrong with users of the recycling area helping to support the facility they are using.

The recycling fees are expected to generate $400,000 to $500,000 over the next 12 months, according to County Administrator Pete Rose. This money will help stabilize the financial condition of the solid waste transfer stations, leading ultimately to improvements.

When it comes to funding the operation, the solid waste transfer stations have fixed costs but fluctuating revenues. They have been funded primarily by “tipping fees,” the fees we pay when we drop off garbage. Solid Waste will dispose of roughly 4,000 fewer tons of garbage this year than it did three years ago.

And yet, we still must have a place to take our recycling. It’s only fair that those who use those services help support those services.

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