Commissioners Announce Temporary Shutdown of County Recycling Program

November 14, 2022

WARREN, Pa. – In a Monday news release, the Warren County Commissioners announced that there would be a “temporary shutdown” of the county’s recycling program effective Dec. 1.

Recycling operations for Columbus, Elk, Eldred, and Cherry Grove Townships will be shut down on that date and recycling bins will be stored by Waste Management “until a plan for the relaunch is generated,” according to the release.

Commissioners cited increased costs associated with the program as the main factor driving the temporary shutdown.

“This is not something we want to do, but we must do,” Commissioner Jeff Eggleston said. “Until there is a plan which creates a sustainable model in our region, we are simply delaying the inevitable and wasting what limited resources we have in the short term.”

The recycling program has primarily been funded through the Grunderville Landfill closure fund, with local municipalities also paying a portion.

“The closure fund is shrinking due to the increased costs and will be depleted in a few years if a new plan is not generated for sustainability,” the Commissioners said in the release.

According to Chief Clerk Pam Matve, the county paid a total of $14,000 in 2019 for recycling. In 2020, that cost increased to $44,000.

“Now, we pay anywhere between $3,000 – $5,000 per month,” Matve said. “As costs went up, they started charging by the ton. In the very beginning, they didn’t charge per ton, then they started charging for both per ton and per pull. With the solid waste fund dissolving at the end of the year, we figured now was the best time to temporarily put a hold on the program to figure out what to do.”

A number of other county municipalities have ended their recycling programs in recent years, including Sheffield, Pleasant, and Glade Townships. The City of Warren, which is required to offer curbside recycling, had to pass on an 80% increase due to rising costs.

The four municipalities still participating in the county program are able to negotiate with Waste Management, or other vendors, to keep their recycling programs going. Any negotiation, however, will come with the understanding that the county will not subsidize those programs.

The Commissioners talked about initiating a temporary shutdown of the program during their July meeting. At that time, Eggleston suggested the county look into getting a grant from the Department of Environmental Protection to subsidize a new program and meet with a consultant to come up with a better long-term plan.

“I feel confident that we can come up with a program where the cost from the county would be as limited as humanely possible,” Eggleston said in July.

Residents who still wish to recycle can take recyclables to the Waste Management transfer site in Pittsfield (free to drop off), Mortensen’s Recycling in Sugar Grove, or any other facility that will accept recyclables.

“There is not a firm restart date for the program, and the county will do its best to communicate with the affected municipalities on how things progress,” the Commissioners said in the release. “The Commissioners understand how popular recycling programs are and wish to work with and support municipalities in any way they can.”

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