Editorial:

Easy access to recycling is critical to its success

Posted 6/1/21

It’s good to see the leaders of Powell Valley Recycling expanding the recycling center’s hours of operation. Easy, convenient access is critical if the nonprofit is to survive and …

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Editorial:

Easy access to recycling is critical to its success

Posted

It’s good to see the leaders of Powell Valley Recycling expanding the recycling center’s hours of operation. Easy, convenient access is critical if the nonprofit is to survive and thrive.

Powell Valley Recycling was thrown off track by COVID-19 last year. First, like many other entities, the center shut down for an extended period of time as a precautionary measure. Then after reopening, it had to shut down in December after six of its seven workers became infected with the novel coronavirus.

But as the threat of illness has waned and restrictions have eased, the center still hasn’t gotten quite back to normal. Prior to the pandemic, recycling bins were available outside the center 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Anyone could drop off their cans, cardboard, plastic bottles or office paper whenever it was convenient, whether that was in the middle of a workday or late at night on a weekend.

However, some people abused that honor system, failing to sort out their recyclables and sometimes leaving trash. And the recycling center’s employees got sick of having to deal with other peoples’ messes — especially after getting a taste of how much better things went without the bins.

“It’s probably a minority,” Powell Valley Recycling Board President Marynell Oechsner said of those who drop off trash, “but it’s something our employees are no longer willing to deal with.”

However, by eliminating the bins, the organization also made it much more difficult for local residents to recycle. Instead of being available at all times, the center is open only three days a week (Tuesday through Thursday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.), and until recently, just every-other Saturday.

Thankfully, at the encouragement of City of Powell officials, Powell Valley Recycling recently decided to open every Saturday (from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.). That’s a great step, because it’s not exactly convenient to have to check if it’s the first or fourth Saturday.

The harder it is to recycle, the fewer the people who will do it — and it would be a shame to see Powell’s longtime recycling efforts falter. In addition to there being inherent value in preventing materials from going to waste, recycling helps keep materials out of the landfill, which extends the life of the cells there.

Certainly, recycling doesn’t pay for itself, as the generally low prices offered for commodities like plastic and newspaper do not cover the cost of processing them. That’s why City of Powell utility customers pay $2 a month to help keep Powell Valley Recycling going. But garbage doesn’t pay for itself, either; when you arrive at a landfill gate with a load of trash, the attendant is going to ask you to pay up.

Especially with landfill fees ever at risk of going up, it makes sense to continue supporting recycling — and we hope Powell Valley Recycling leaders continue working to find ways to make it easier to do so.

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