Guest column/JB Green Team currently facing some difficult changes

The JB Green Team initiated several new programs during 2013 to expand the recycling solid waste commitment to our community. One of those programs kicked off in November of last year was a curbside recycling trial. The purpose of the trial was to run a one-year trial collection activity in each county. We selected the largest city community and a target area of 400 homes in each city selected by the city administration. The mayors of each city were very enthusiastic in the support of this one-year trial. Each donated a significant portion of their time to communicate the program to their city residents. Each further made themselves available to advertisements encouraging participation. Each also provided city employees and volunteer workers from local organizations to distribute the collection containers.

The program was financed totally by the Jefferson-Belmont Solid Waste Authority. The funds were provided through disposal fees collected from the Apex Landfill during 2013.

Unfortunately, in 2014 those funds were significantly reduced by 64 percent due to the reduction of disposal volumes from out-of-state wastes into the landfill. This loss of revenue resulted in the severe elimination of some programs, and the curtailment of many others. The solid waste authority was forced to reverse many years of successful programming and services offered to the authority community of Jefferson and Belmont counties. The curbside recycling program trial was one of the casualties.

We were forced to cut the curbside program to a six-month trial instead of the originally planned one-year trial. We will still provide the same presentation of the cost to benefit analysis to the two community city councils, but just during a period of six months, and not the original duration. From the data presented, members of council in each city will be able to determine if this service should be continued through funding by the individual city government, expanded citywide or concept dropped.

The JB Green Team is still active in the communities through community collection sites (big blue boxes), 30-plus community educational awareness programs, hazardous waste collections, school participation programs, reduced number of community cleanup efforts and tire collections. The two fully equipped environmental enforcement officers hired for the enforcement program are now funded by the generosity of the county commissioners of Belmont County and under consideration by the Jefferson County commissioners. We still have a role in illegal dump site enforcement and cleanup but not the lead.

Thank you to all community recycling supporters who have grown with us. Hopefully, this is only a short-term setback.

(Meyer is the executive director of the Jefferson-Belmont Regional Solid Waste Authority.)