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Proposal simplifies curbside recycling in Charleston

Charleston residents would no longer have to sort their recycling for curbside pickup if a proposal to introduce single-stream recycling succeeds.

The issue was discussed at the Kanawha County Solid Waste Authority board of directors meeting Tuesday morning.

West Virginia Recycling Services Director George Hunyadi said establishing single-stream recycling would increase participation and the amount of material processed at the Slack Street recycling center.

"Really, it's about making it super, super easy," he said.

Under single stream recycling, residents would be able to put all their recyclable materials into one bag or container, instead of needing to sort those items. The materials could then be sorted at the Slack Street facility.

"It's going to be easier for them; it's going to be easier for me," Hunyadi said.

Hunyadi said he is recycling about 500 tons of material each month but has a goal of 1,000 tons.

Single-stream recycling for commercial enterprises is also in the works.

The change won't happen overnight, though. City law requires residents to separate items before setting the materials on the curb to be collected. Therefore, city council will have to pass an ordinance allowing single-stream recycling.

At-Large Mountain Party Councilwoman Kasey Russell, who also serves on the solid waste board, said she would sponsor a single-stream recycling ordinance to present to council.

Other communities already have single-stream recycling, or have switched to the practice in recent years.

In Kanawha County, for example, South Charleston already conducts single-stream recycling. Residents in that city don't need to sort materials before curbside pickup.

Morgantown made the switch to single-stream in January. Large rolling green containers were distributed to city residents, and all recyclable materials could be placed in the containers. The city also accepted some materials not accepted by county drop-off locations, like No. 5 plastics.

Morgantown officials would later report a huge spike in the amount of material recycled. In the first quarter of 2013, more than 208 tons were collected - more than the amount collected in the previous 2 1/2 years.

Bridgeport also experienced a rise in recycling participation after providing rolling bins and switching to single-stream recycling in 2011. Over a two-year period, Bridgeport's recycling participation rate jumped 67 percent.

Cities often save money by recycling because landfills charge "tip fees" based on weight that have to be paid to dump waste in the landfill.

In other business, the board discussed assisting smaller communities in Kanawha County with their recycling needs. The authority has already been working with small towns, particularly in the Upper Kanawha Valley, but wants to make sure the town governments understand the options available to them for recycling.

"We have to keep them involved," said board member Gerald Burgy, who is also South Charleston's public works director.

The authority formed a "city/town recycling committee" to address some of those issues. The committee will meet Oct. 9.

The Solid Waste Authority board will not meet in Charleston for its October meeting. Instead, authority members will convene at Canaan Valley Resort State Park in Tucker County during a three-day conference sponsored by the West Virginia Association of Solid Waste Authorities.

Contact writer Matt Murphy at or 304-348-4817.



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