Local News

County working on recycling agreement

SEBRING - As the county works out an agreement for residential curbside recycling services, Sebring and Lake Placid are taking a wait-and-see stance, to see what happens with the county.

County representatives, including engineer Ramon Gavarrete, are meeting today with Progressive Waste Solutions to start working out the details of a contract based on a proposal the county commission has approved.

Gavarrete said he is hoping to present a proposed contract to the commission in January or early February.

He believes there will be good citizen participation for recycling.

"Right now it is still being proposed to be kept it voluntary, but if the board decides to do one pickup of trash and one pickup of recycling per week, people are going to want to put recyclables in the recycling bins, so that their trash doesn't get too full," he said.

Sebring City Administrator Scott Noethlich said while the city is waiting to see what happens with the county, they are also looking at other recycling options.

The city will look at the costs versus benefits to determine if the county's agreement makes sense for the city or if the city needs to negotiate a separate contract, he said.

Noethlich believes one or more of the city council members will be asking how commercial recycling will be handled.

Currently, a lot of commercial customers are recycling cardboard at no charge, which will likely raise some questions when recycling services are discussed, he said.

"Until we get substantial facts from the county's contract, we are not going to approach Progressive," Noethlich said. But, it doesn't rule out Republic Services.

"There is the potential that we could do something similar to what they are doing in Avon Park," he said.

Also, the city may consider doing a once-a-week recycling pickup and taking it to the recycling facility.

There are a lot of variables to be discussed such as who supplies the recycling bins Noethlich said. "We are not rushing out there to get recycling implemented as of yet and we will only do it if it makes financial sense."

The City of Avon Park launched the first curbside recycling program in the county in November 2012. The city's "single-stream" program allows all recyclables, such as plastics, glass, metals, cardboard and newsprint, to go into one container. Republic supplied the 64-gallon recycling carts.

Lake Placid Councilwoman Debra Worley, an ardent supporter of recycling, polled her fellow council members recently on their thoughts about curbside recycling.

The county will likely have a recycling agreement in the next two months, Worley noted.

"Where do you stand with recycling? Do you want to recycle? And when?" she asked. "I think the people of Lake Placid want to recycle."

Councilman Steve Bastardi said he didn't recycle.

"If you don't have anything in place that would force me to recycle, then just the pure interest in recycling isn't going to produce the end result you are hoping for," he said.

Councilman Mike Waldron said he had a mixed opinion on it. He has read reports that it is not cost effective.

Councilman Ray Royce said he has family members who are ardent recyclers, but he is not one them.

"We have to understand the economics because you do not in today's world make money on recycling," he said. "There is going to be a net cost to recycling."

Mayor John Holbrook said he and his wife are avid recyclers.

Worley asked if he would like curbside recycling.

Holbrook responded that he would support recycling if it was feasible and didn't cost the taxpayers any more money.

Worley asked, "what if they (taxpayers) paid less?" to which Holbrook replied, "that's just a win-win."

Worley added: "I do believe in recycling; I really want to do it; I think we should stop throwing our trash in the ground when we can put it to good use."