South Bethany looks at recycling

The process is still in the works, but the Town of South Bethany may be looking a little greener in the near future — figuratively speaking. The Town’s Planning and Zoning Commission met on Saturday, June 9, to discuss a possible town-wide curbside recycling program that could start by next summer.

“I had originally thought curbside recycling was more of a hassle, when the issue first came up,” admitted Commissioner George Junkin. “Delaware has recently been experiencing some trouble with landfills filling up. Sussex County, in particular, doesn’t have a problem, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do the right thing.”

His proposal is not a mandatory one, but could help eliminate not only trash through out the community, but along the beaches, as well.

“A recycling program in the town will encourage people without enforcing,” he said, “and it saves labor and dumping costs.”

According to Junkin’s research, DENREC negotiated an arrangement with Delaware Solid Waste Authority (DSWA) that will increase recycling opportunities and slow projected growth of landfills.

“DSWA is more than willing to work with us now,” said Junkin. “We need to get what we want before it becomes mandatory and it becomes what someone else wants.”

Milford and Rehoboth Beach have already implemented municipal recycling programs. In both locations, sign-up is not mandatory, but recommended by town-wide sign-up letters. In Milford, two recycling pick-ups each week take away bags containing separated recyclables, including magazines and junk mail, newspaper, plastic bottles and aluminum and tin cans. Glass is placed in plastic bins, under which corrugated cardboard is broken down and placed for collection.

In Rehoboth, participants are given a 65-gallon plastic container on wheels for all recyclable material except glass, requiring very little separation. Glass is placed in a smaller, 18-gallon plastic bin. It is this method that Junkin sees as the most productive one.

The proposed recycling program would run six months of the year, from April 15 through Oct. 15, with no required sign-up.

“There are not enough residents here during the other months to justify the town trying to manage recycle pick-up for the rest of the year,” Junkin noted in his presentation. Of the roughly 1,200 residences in South Bethany, only 200 have 19930 listed as their permanent address. “These full-time residents would have to negotiate directly with DSWA for the other six months,” he added. “Those who aren’t year-round residents are already paying for the rest of the town’s trash. This cold help make it easier for everyone.”

Under the proposal, residents would likely have their choice of the 65-gallon container with the 18-gallon bin, or the smaller bin with bags for separation of different recyclables. Junkin suggested that the larger 65-gallon container would also be appropriate at all South Bethany beach accesses, to help eliminate litter along the shoreline.

“There’s no need to have the bins for glass [at the accesses], since glass is not sanctioned on the beach,” he said, “but it will really help with the build-up of trash that’s left each week.”

One consideration still undetermined is to find suitable use for the barrels provided by the Lions Club that currently sit at the beach accesses, where cans are collected toward the club’s fundraising goals.

If the program is implemented in South Bethany, Junkin suggested that the town should consider eliminating from the town’s contract with trash-haulers BFI their Thursday refuse pick-up, one of three weekly pick-ups done in the months of June, July and August.

“This would encourage people to take advantage of the recycling opportunity so as to reduce their garbage load,” he said. If initiated, homeowners would be notified of the program. The proposal will likely be incorporated into the town’s bid package for trash hauling when bids are next submitted, this September.

The issue will be presented to the town council in the next months, with appropriate amendments being made to the code, if the council decides to go with the proposal.

“This isn’t something that we need to sign up for forever, but it’s a step in the right direction,” said Junkin. “It might be something that works well or not at all, but it’s worth a shot.”