CHARLESTON, W.Va. - An experienced member of Charleston's Environment and Recycling Committee has suggested that the city temporarily stop recycling four out of the seven items it has been accepting.
But Mayor Danny Jones will not support eliminating anything from the city's recycling stream.
Councilman Cubert Smith, an independent from the city's East End, has extensive experience with recycling.
He was a member of the Kanawha County Solid Waste Authority for several years, and he also sits on the city's Environment and Recycling Committee. Smith pointed out that Charleston currently recycles seven items when it is only mandated by state law to recycle three.
The city has also been forced to haul its recycling, such as aluminum cans and plastic bottles, to Beckley ever since the Kanawha County Solid Waste Authority was forced to close its doors in March due to structural issues with the building and the fact that combustible dust was found in the over 100-year-old structure.
The city pays about $500 a week to haul recyclables to Beckley, said Kasey Russell, an at large councilwoman who also sits on the recycling committee. That equals about $25,000 a year, she said.
"I'm not against recycling, I've been involved in it for 20 years in the city," Smith said. "But when the people ask me to represent them, my responsibility is to examine everything that is a reason for them (residents) to be concerned."
The state mandates any city with a population of 10,000 people or more offer curbside recycling. The cities must recycle three items. However, the city can pick which items to recycle.
Currently, Charleston refuse workers pick up newspapers, magazines, aluminum and steel cans, plastics, grass clippings and leaves, and appliances, Smith said. He would like to eliminate four of these items from the list in order to cut down on city expenses.
However, Jones said he would never support such a move.
"I'm just one vote on council, but I would never support doing that," Jones said.
Many people in Charleston are avid recyclers and these individuals are passing on the importance of recycling to their children, Jones said. Eliminating items from the recycling stream would discourage people from recycling at all, he said.
"We're not going to stop recycling," he said.
Smith pointed out that the recycling program could be expanded to include the items eliminated from the list if a public/private partnership is finalized between the Solid Waste Authority and West Virginia Recycling Services.
West Virginia Recycling Services is a private for-profit company that could take over recycling at the Slack Street center. The company would renovate the structure and open it to the public and cities.
Officials with the Solid Waste Authority are currently reviewing the proposal.