EDITORIAL: County recycling just fine as it is

Island County Solid Waste is embarking on a project that could make life more complicated and expensive for county residents with no clear public benefit to be seen.

The county will soon be promoting curbside recycling for the 9,000 residents who are customers of Island Recycling, which was once a locally owned business but is now part of a much larger company. Under such conditions, any proposed changes should be scrutinized carefully.

Island County residents presently meet the national average in recycling, but without any government mandates. Most people drive their newspapers, cans, bottles and other recycleable items to one of several conveniently located recycling centers. Recycleable items that end up in the household garbage undergo recycling at the old county landfill. Garbage is dumped on a conveyor belt by Island Disposal trucks, and paid workers pull out the recycleable material.

It’s a good system. No one is forced to recycle, we aren’t financially punished for not recycling, a few jobs are created, and yet we’re doing about as well as anyone in recycling.

Now, the county wants all Island Disposal customers to purchase clear plastic bags and place their recyclables in those bags. More cost, more bother, and more possibilities for price increases -- an additional charge for those who do not recycle, for example, or a future charge for picking up the recycle bags.

It’s easy to see a benefit in this to Island County Solid Waste and Island Disposal. They could charge for picking up those clear bags or at least lay off a few of the people who are presently gainfully employed picking recyclables out of our garbage. Possibly both, in the long run.

As for the rest of use, we’ll be facing higher costs and more bother. Fortunately, this is an election year. Ask your county commissioner candidates if they think this is what we really want.

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