Editorial: Kanawha’s recycling law is a nice success

Nearly one quarter-century ago, Kanawha County voters overwhelmingly approved a referendum on recycling by a vote of 25,757 to 6,203 in 1990. This newspaper was among the many groups to endorse it.

Two years later, the Kanawha County Commission passed an ordinance to enable it.

Among its provisions, the county required trash haulers to collect recycled materials separately at least once a month. Also, the county required the haulers to file with the county Solid Waste Authority a plan for yard waste.

In the 22 years since, recycling has had its ups and downs. Many of the recycled items have a limited market, particularly glass. But it does spare the landfills.

The authority ran the recycling center for about 20 years but that plan collapsed when its building on Slack Street nearly did.

A little over a year ago, the authority turned the business over to a private company, West Virginia Recycling Services, run by George Hunyadi.

The public seems less enthusiastic about recycling than it did two decades ago.

Which may explain why officials are ignoring those two provisions of the ordinance that require recycling collections and yard waste plans. There does not seem to be a hue and cry for enforcement.

Rod Watkins, chairman of the authority, told the Daily Mail’s Matt Murphy that the ordinance is pretty much ignored. He said if it were properly enforced, recycling would be “booming.”

Would it?

Given the lack of public concern over enforcing this law -- several county officials said they were not aware of the ordinance -- it would appear that the law is a relic of the past that no longer is necessary.

These provisions for filing a plan and the like are busy work that do not serve a purpose. Kanawha County residents have been recycling despite file cabinets that go unfilled in the bowels of county government.

Sally Shepherd, the original director of the Solid Waste Authority, said the ordinance served as an impetus to encourage people to recycle.

“It gave the residents a chance to say, ‘Yes, we wanted this to happen’,” Shepherd told Murphy.

She is correct.

The law served its purpose. Now, county commissioners should drop the provisions that are unnecessary.

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