Delaware Gov. signs recycling bill

    Gov. Jack Markell makes it official as he puts his signature on the Universal Recycling Bill. The measure establishes curbside recycling for all Delaware residents.

    Statewide recycling is now a reality in Delaware.

    Gov. Jack Markell signed the landmark legislation Tuesday at the Cherry Island Landfill in Wilmington.

    “It’s fitting that I sign this legislation right here,” Markell said. “Because it illustrates what we’re trying to do, which is reduce the amount of trash going into the landfills.”

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    The Universal Recycling Bill will put a recycling bin in every Delaware household. It requires all public and private waste haulers to offer household and commercial curbside recycling pickups at least once every other week. It also eliminates the “Bottle Bill” deposit program.

    It’s a plan that has been in the works for many years. Now that it’s finally in place, proponents say the benefits will last for decades.

    “This is a proud day,” said Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control Secretary Colin O’Mara. “Recycling is the classic win-win. It’s good for the economy and it’s great for the environment.”

    According to O’Mara, the bill has the potential to reduce waste going into landfills by more than 300,000 tons a year.

    “At the end of the day we only have so much more capacity, you can only go so high,” said O’Mara, referring to the mountain of groomed garbage behind him. “And so by removing almost half of the waste going into the landfills, we can double the longevity of some of these facilities.”

    The voluntary program will be offered on the following timetable: Single-family homes and restaurants and bars by September 2011; multi-family residences, such as apartment complexes, by January 2013 and commercial businesses by January 2014.

    The bill provides start-up money for things like recycling bins and trucks by converting the current 5-cent deposit on beer and soda containers to a 4-cent fee.

    “The plan is comprehensive, it’s cost effective and it’s practical,” Markell said. “And we hope that by making it easier for people, more Delaware residents will choose to recycle which ultimately is in everybody’s economic and environmental best interest.”

    O’Mara told those gathered at the bill-signing event that in such difficult economic times and with a plan this comprehensive, it would have been easier to simply wait a few more years.

    “But every year we delay, we just dig ourselves a bigger hole,” he said before correcting himself. “Or fill up a bigger hole as the case may be.”

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