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2010-02-03 / Opinion

County, citizens must suppor t recycling center

FLASHBACK – Almost 20 years ago, Sanilac County citizens were outraged at the large number of garbage trucks hauling trash to the landfill on Ruth Road in Bridgehampton Township. A very strong, committed group of citizens formed the grassroots organization, Citizens Against Rural Exploitation (C.A.R.E.) to stop the flow of garbage. When the County Commissioners were asked to do something to stop the trucks, they said they couldn’t do anything but C.A.R.E. and others knew they could and kept pushing to stop the out-of-county garbage.

FLASHBACK – About 4 years later and after lengthy legal battles, citizen outrage, public hearings and rejection of the county Solid Waste Plan, the County Commissioners said they struck a good deal for the citizens of Sanilac County. After much pressure from C.A.R.E. members and the community, they had reached an agreement with Waste Management, Inc., which limited the amount of trash they could bring into Sanilac County and which provided a tipping fee for each yard of waste brought into the county. A public meeting was held for all the local cities, townships and villages and we were told by the County Prosecutor and county attorney that the tipping fee would be put into an Environmental Trust Fund. This fund would be set aside and used for several reasons:

To open a public recycling center operated by inmates and a Sheriff’s Department employee; (the brainchild of the late Jim Merriman and C.A.R.E.).

To hire a landfill monitor to keep an eye on the operations at Tri- City Landfill and to check the daily trash logs against the amount of tipping fees received and to assure no hazardous or banned materials were being dumped.

And finally, money would be set aside for future legal issues and for any DEQ mandated clean-up of the facility. (Even though privately owned, the county could be responsible for clean-up since our trash is in the landfill too!)

WHAT HAS REALLY HAPPENED:

The Environmental Trust Fund has been tapped to balance the budgets of county offices, including the Health Dept, and to support MSU Extension, Soil Conservation, Emergency Management, even the Sanilac County Economic Alliance!

The landfill monitor has long been gone! No one is watching the activities at the landfill, no one is checking the amount of waste coming in against the tipping fees and no one is monitoring the type of trash being dumped.

The Recycling Center has gone through several management changes over the years and is now back with the Sheriff’s Dept.

Although it is true that recycling revenues have dropped over the years, there are several things that can be done in this time of “going green” that would be helpful:

Mandate that the recycling containers Waste Management has been required to provide to each district take all materials that can be recycled (including cardboard and Styrofoam) and mandate that the containers have to be taken to the county recycling center,

Mandate that all cities and villages provide curbside recycling and that all recycled material be delivered to the county recycling center, no matter which company is picking up their trash.

Mandate recycling in all county offices. I’ve heard that the county simply pitches their old paperwork in the dumpster rather than shredding and recycling it!

Work with other recycling centers in the Thumb to get the best price possible for the recycled materials.

I’m pleased that the current Commissioners appear to be committed to keeping the recycling center open, but it is disturbing to hear of their concern that they have to “subsidize” it - this is exactly what the Environmental Trust Fund was set up for!

Citizens of Sanilac County – support recycling! It’s the right thing to do and it’s easy! Pressure your village or city to have curbside recycling if it isn’t there already! Support the recycling center in the industrial park in Sandusky! (BY THE WAY, THE SIGN POINTING TO THE RECYCLING CENTER ON M-46 WAS TAKEN DOWN THIS SUMMER AND NEEDS TO BE PUT BACK IN PLACE!) Make this year the year that you truly go green!

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