Sussex County goes ‘green’ with new recycling policy for government offices

Sussex County is going green this March, but it’s not on account of St. Patty’s Day. County Administrator David B. Baker announced Tuesday, March 11, that all County operations this month will begin recycling office waste, from copier paper and cardboard boxes to bottles and bags, through a partnership with the Delaware Solid Waste Authority (DSWA).

County Facilities Management staff soon will replace most conventional waste cans with new recycling containers in County offices, starting in the County Administrative Offices building in downtown Georgetown. Other County offices will convert in the coming weeks.

County employees will use the receptacles to dispose of most office waste, which, under DSWA’s recent shift to single-stream recycling, allows different types of materials to be collected in one container. Sussex officials estimate that at least three-quarters of the waste generated by County offices qualifies as recyclable materials.

“Recycling makes senses, not just from an operations standpoint or because it makes good business sense, but because it’s the environmentally correct thing to do,” Baker said. “This is one step that we can take in our offices to be more environmentally responsible, and to make a contribution that, hopefully, makes Sussex County a better place for all of us.”

As part of the new internal recycling policy, endorsed by the County Council on Tuesday night, Sussex County will partner with DSWA to locate a public “Recycle Delaware” center in Georgetown. County maintenance staff will dispose of recyclable waste at the center.

The center, however, will be open to the public for use, providing another convenient drop-off location for residents in the Georgetown area, said Rich VonStetten, DSWA’s senior manager of statewide recycling. The center will be located in the parking lot of the County Administrative Offices West Complex, U.S. 113 and Old Laurel Road, behind Wilmington Trust.

“DSWA is elated to be partnering with Sussex County for this new endeavor,” VonStetten said. “I’m sure it’s going to be a positive experience for all involved.”

County Facilities Management Director Ray Webb said internal recycling was something the County has considered before, but the logistics of separating the waste, and then disposing of it, made the move impractical. Now, with DSWA’s single-stream method, all of the recycled goods can be collected together and disposed of, without sorting, into single bins.

“If these items can be recycled, and done so with relative ease and at no cost to the County taxpayers, why throw it away?” Webb said. “That’s the way I see it.”

The move could save the County money, too. Sussex County spent approximately $1,900 in landfill tipping fees in the 2007 fiscal year to dispose of garbage at DSWA’s Southern Waste Management Center. Now, by recycling most office waste generated by County operations, Webb expects maintenance staff will have to make fewer trips to the landfill and have less garbage to transport. That will save money on tipping fees, fuel costs and manpower.

County Council President Finley B. Jones Jr. praised the decision, saying the policy ultimately is not about dollars, but about common sense.

“Sure, the savings are nice. It’s not a lot, but every little bit helps,” Jones said. “But overall, this is not about saving money. It’s about helping the environment, and that’s priceless.”