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Reader urges reconsideration of recycling program
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    When I first moved to Bulloch County 26 years ago, the only thing I recycled was soda cans. Recycle centers were built and I added newspapers, magazines, cardboard, glass, plastic milk jugs. Curbside came along, and we added junk mail, cereal boxes and all kinds of #1 and #2 plastic containers. We found that our small blue bin was filled every week and our large green garbage can was usually less than half-filled. Therefore, it was with great disappointment that I read the recent article reporting that the county commissioners have decided to discontinue the curbside recycling program for those in the county who currently use it.
    From the article, county manager Tom Couch stated that the program was poorly set up and implemented and follow through was poor after the departure of the two persons formerly in charge. Mr. Couch states that there is an audit being conducted because they know there are some "free" accounts, but they don't know how many. Furthermore, because of lapsed record keeping, there is no accountability of who has/has not paid, yet he states that each user should be paying an additional $65 for service (based on what data?). Perhaps if everyone who receives service was actually paying for the service and was current on their account, the deficit would not be a deficit. We don't know, because there is no data. He is not sure where all the carts are located, yet, he hopes to retrieve 70-80 percent of them.
    I find it interesting that many cities, large and small, have curbside recycling programs. However, in all the places I have seen, "everyone" is billed and expected to participate, just like they do for garbage/trash pick-up. We have never tried that approach in Bulloch County.
    No one ever asked those participating if they would be willing to pay more for curbside pick-up. What will be the cost to filling up the landfill (with recyclables) after curbside goes away, if much of what was previously recycled is now stashed in the garbage can? Why did the guys emptying the carts, put boards with nails into the truck? Why was no one ever warned/cited for putting non-recyclables in their bins? Why did county officials never assign someone to be in charge of such a costly and important program? Why did county officials never try to account for each bin and assure that each person receiving service paid for it? The commissioners' solution appears to be throwing the baby out with the bath water, as opposed to rectifying the many problems created by lack of oversight.
    Accountability for any governmental program is critical. Recycling is necessary — we have one earth, and we need to find ways to protect our environment. Finding ways to encourage folks to recycle as opposed to "throwing it in the garbage can" is important.
    I strongly encourage our county commissioners to reconsider their decision. Rather than discontinuing curbside recycling, hire someone to oversee the program, assure that each person/agency assigned a bin pays for service and maybe even increase the fee. Or, perhaps the service should be expanded to include everyone in the county (charging everyone would be less costly than delivering the service to a select few). Or find a private company to assume the curbside collection service. There are options other than discontinuation, if only you are willing to consider them.
Becky Kelly

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