Two Recycling Problems
After reading the latest story in the paper about Hanover’s recycling plan, I feel a little bit better. First off, borough staff didn’t change their mind totally since the last time the topic came up, which was a nice change from the “we’re going to one price, oh no we’re not” from before. Secondly, they at least acknowledge plans to continually improve the program.
Of course when I see two good things, I’ll find two bad things … especially when it comes to recycling in Hanover.
It’s awesome that the borough will be getting a new truck to help expand curbside collection to twice a month. Making recycling easier will go a long way to strengthening the entire program in the borough.
The borough will pay for the $200,000 truck with money received from the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). That money comes from back payments the DEP is sending to Hanover because the borough has finally met the standards the state wanted for recycling. Then, the borough will get 80 percent of that money back through a DEP grant.
While I really like the idea of a $200,000 truck only costing the borough $40,000, it just almost seems like a shell game since some of the money is coming from reimbursements Hanover should have received as far back as 2005. I just don’t want to jump up and down because the new truck is easy to pay off because we finally met state standards six years later.
This just underlines my main problem with the recycling program. They’re championing how this money will improve the system now when it could have been used to make incremental improvements over the past few years. But the improvements have been few and far between even as we’re told how fantastic the existing system is.
If the status quo is so fantastic, why is the borough dependent on the old DEP grants they needed to change the system to get to make upgrades? Basically, the “we know better than anyone else” attitude on Frederick Street and North Avenue has pretty much done nothing to advance recycling in Hanover. Until now when changes posited half a decade ago are finally happening..
Which leads me to my other problem with the latest developments. Borough manager Barb Krebs manages to use one of my least favorite phrases while shining some light on possible future changes.
“It all takes time and money, and I know people want things like plastic (collection),” she said. “But you have to take it a step at a time. You have to start somewhere.”
No, Barb, you don’t “have to” take it one step in a time. No law says you “have to” take incremental steps. No law says you “have to” continue a system which has done nothing but bring penalties and problems for the borough while a common-sense solution is on display just outside your borders.
You could have had an open, transparent examination of the existing system released to the public while soliciting proposals from outside vendors to determine which system would provide the best environmental and economic impact. You could have come up with a large-scale overhaul of the borough system with one price point instead of continuing the tiered system. You could have made the changes required by law (i.e. have to make) six years ago and put that $200,000 to good use over time to implement changes you are now saying we can’t make yet. You could have done anything you wanted.
And don’t insult us by saying “you have to take it one step at a time” when Hanover thumbed its nose at the state said you “have to” do something. “Have to” is a two-way street. The borough chose to put its head in the sand. No one made them do that.