Mayor’s statement on suspending recycling center

by | October 1, 2019 5:04 pm

by CHARLES SCHWABE, Mayor

Recently, the City Council of Swainsboro voted to suspend operations of the local recycling center. This has been an issue of concern for many. Questions have arisen, and there has been much discussion and debate. There has, however, been complete agreement on one point. Everyone supports recycling. Everyone agrees on its positive environmental impact. It is a valuable component of a socially responsible community. But it is also a very expensive proposition that involves significant costs in operation. As we strive to conduct city business in a business-like fashion, it is our duty to evaluate the merits and benefits of various programs versus the “bottom line” costs to the taxpayer.

For many years, the recycling center operated in a financially neutral position. The building was paid for with a grant. Cardboard and plastic provided enough revenue to pay the expenses of operation. The center paid its own way. Unfortunately through the years, conditions have changed. Now, the main revenue producer, cardboard, brings in far less in market price than it once did. Also, the volume of cardboard available to be processed has drastically declined. Plastic is now almost impossible to get rid of. Many of the Asian countries which were main buyers now refuse to take plastics at all. Add to this the fact that routine expenses for the operation of the center have steadily increased in the past few years. In our review of the situation, we found that many of our surrounding communities have either eliminated or sharply reduced their recycling activities. The City carefully considered the reality of the current conditions and unfortunately concluded that the operation of the center was simply not feasible at the current time.

I appreciate the opinions of all who have contacted City Hall regarding this situation. I especially want to commend the Swainsboro Middle School students for their interest and involvement in circulating a petition concerning this matter. To those students and the others who support the work of the recycling center, I assure you that the City will continue to monitor the variables and the potential of recycling in our town. We will consider all workable options. This country, and indeed this whole world, is now struggling with environmental challenges. Hopefully, through advances in technology and market conditions, recycling will once again be self-supportive and the City can endorse and participate in this worthy practice that benefits us all.

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