Bethany takes closer look at recycling

Members of the Bethany Beach Recycling committee perused the town on Tuesday, accompanied by Delaware Solid Waste Authority (DSWA)’s senior manager of statewide recycling, Rich VonStetten, in hopes of coming to a conclusion concerning central drop-off locations. The meeting came in reference to the proposed town-wide voluntary curbside recycling program, upon which the town council will vote this month.

Under the proposed recycling program, single-family homes would participate in a curb-side recycling pick-up once a week during the summer season and bi-weekly in the off-season months for $1 per pick-up, totaling approximately $34 annually to homeowners.

Some communities through the town, however, who dispose of trash at a common, receptacle location, such as condominium-style homes, would not implement such pick-up. Instead, the committee shared ideas about adding a central recycling drop-off, as well as discussing bumps that may hinder DSWA’s program.

VonStetten, who estimated that there are close to 50 people in Bethany currently signed up to the $6 per month individual curbside recycling program, has faced this situation in a number of towns before. Some residents also utilize the Millville drop-off location beside the lodge of local Masons, and are not signed up for a program.

The new program would cost less than half the existing rate for individual curbside recycling, and would eliminate the hassle of separating recyclables, or commuting to dispose of recyclables. It would also cost the town less for what they contribute to the state’s landfills. The new program would also include recycling of paperboard, such as soda packs and cereal boxes, whereas the current program does not.

The first step, they agreed on, is getting these communities aware of the situation.

“It’s an all-or-nothing thing,” said VonStetten. “The homeowner’s association of each of these communities needs to make the people aware of this.”

Until each Bethany community with central drop-off locations comes with a majority vote from its residents, they cannot sign up for the program. Communities such as Bethany Proper, where curbside pick up currently takes place, would likely not have to develop a proposed central drop-off location.

Voluntary recycling programs are surging through the state and country. Towns in Sussex County that have already implement recycling programs include Milford, Rehoboth, Fenwick Island and South Bethany. Lewes, similarly to Bethany, is in the final weeks of making their decision, as well.

Some concerns of the committee members were presented as they surveyed the town.

“We have to make sure we’re picking up often enough,” said Carol Olmstead, the town’s mayor. “What worries me is having too few pick-ups and trash falling all over the ground around the recycling dumpsters.”

Another area of concern was overflow from regular trash dumpsters into the recycling ones.

“That all needs to be worked out when you establish where to put these receptacles,” VonStetten replied.

Bethany plans to act soon, as a price increase in the program is on the horizon.

When prompted on the topic of mandatory recycling, VonStetten replied, “Don’t hold your breath. It wouldn’t likely happen in Delaware before 30 years from now. There are too many legislators who will not support it, no matter what. As soon as you throw that word, ‘mandatory’ in there, people throw up their hands.”