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Give Danville residents a break — end mandatory recycling

By ELAINE WILSON-REDDY

Contributing columnist

I recycle. I love to recycle. When I put a glass bottle, paper or (approved) plastic in my recycling container, I feel like I’m helping save this fragile blue marble we call Earth. However, I do not like paying for a recycling service that is inconsistent. There’s the rub.

The City of Danville has mandatory recycling. Every Danville citizen pays a fee on their water bill for curbside recycling pickup. This fee is paid whether you recycle or not. This fee is paid whether the truck empties your container or not. This fee is collected every single time you pay your city water bill, even when the truck misses your street or house. UGH!!!

The recycling truck skipped our street three times in a row. Our home recycling was not picked up for two months. The container was overflowing. I’m not happy to admit this, but we put our plastic gallon jugs and empty two liter bottles in the regular trash.

I sent an email to Danville City Manager Ron Scott asking to either have our recycling picked up or for a refund of the fee for that period of time knowing neither would happen. He replied with an informative message regarding the current recycling situation.

Recycling is no longer profitable. Third-world countries like China and India are no longer buying our waste, or at least not at the previous rate. If it doesn’t make a profit, it is no longer a service (per U.S. custom).

Mr. Scott explained that the city has been meeting with representatives from Republic since October to try to resolve issues with their “service.” Chances are, your recycling container has been skipped more than once even though the company is still being paid. There is a provision in the contract that allows the city to fine Republic $20 for each missed pickup. If your container isn’t emptied on the scheduled day, call the city and let them know.

Fining Republic still doesn’t change two fundamental issues: we still consistently pay for a service we don’t consistently receive and recycling is no longer profitable.

The city contract with Republic ends in 2019 and a new contract will go out for bids. If the recycling business is an expense for sanitation companies and we continue to have curbside recycling service, our cost will increase. I don’t know about you but I’m beyond tired of my expenses outrunning my income. As much as it pains me, if the choice is between increasing the fee for recycling or going back to voluntary recycling, I’m happy to give up my little blue container and take my own recyclables to the center.

Maybe it’s time to cut the cord. How awesome would it be for our water bills to DECREASE by the amount we pay for recycling? I don’t know what that amount would be, but in this case, less is better.

City commissioners, the recycling experiment has run its course. Please, please, please, give us a break. Between the increased sewer fee, y’all’s pay increase (don’t even get me started on that one) and the increased payroll tax, it’s time to give us some of our money back. Be historically bold and repeal the mandatory recycling fee.