Delaware recycling efforts pay dividends with no more fees

Beginning today, retailers will no longer have to pay a four cent fee for certain beverages that are sold to customers.

The fee has helped Delaware raise millions to bolster statewide recycling efforts and officials announced today that the recycling fund has enough money to sustain programs through 2015.

The announcement was made as Delaware Governor Jack Markell provided an update on Delaware’s recycling efforts on Monday.

The governor highlighted the progress of the single-stream recycling plan that was put into Delaware’s Universal Recycling Law in 2010.

Markell noted that Delaware had a 42 percent recycling diversion rate in 2013, which is above the EPA’s standard of 34.5 percent.

Under the Universal Recycling Law, waste companies are required to offer recycling services to single-family residential neighborhoods as well as multi-family residential complexes. It also required businesses, non-profits, schools and municipalities to participate in a comprehensive recycling program.

“I committed at the outset of my administration to making recycling a priority for Delaware and to do that, we needed to maximize recycling benefits and make it easier to recycle,” Markell said. “We’ve established a system that provides universal services that are cost-effective and convenient, and that promotes jobs and economic growth. It makes environmental and economic sense for Delaware to recycle.”

Through the single steam service, all recyclables go into common containers which are taken to local recycling centers where the materials are sorted and reused.

“We are conserving valuable landfill capacity and reusing materials which can save money and energy in manufacturing products,” said DNREC Secretary David Small. “Where previous efforts failed to gain support, Governor Markell’s leadership resulted in an innovative and inclusive approach that redirected existing resources to implement the program.”  He praised the governor’s commitment to pusing for universal recycling. “It would have been easy to take the fee and apply it other programs, but Governor Markell resisted doing that.”

Since 2006, Delaware has saved 500,000 tons of materials from going into landfills.

Recycling creates jobs

The program isn’t just good for the environment, it has also benefited the state’s economy.

At ReCommunity Recycling Center, more than 90 jobs have been created in the last 18 months.

“These new jobs are the direct result of the Universal Recycling Law, which has driven 184,000 tons of recycled material to be processed for reuse,” said Robert Anderson of ReCommunity. “In other words, these materials are being turned into revenue for Delaware rather than in delivering these materials to landfills.”

He added that recyclables processed at ReCommunity have reduced Delaware’s carbon footprint by 535,000 tons of carbon emissions, the equivalent of removing 3 million cars from the road.

A look inside the recycling facility shows a network of conveyor belts and people sorting through the different types of paper and plastic to keep the recycling system moving.

Anderson said it would be helpful if people would familiarize themselves with what can be recycled.  He said that while most plastics are on the good-to-go list he said there were items with needles that are included, along with large metal items.  He added the biggest offender were people who dumped diapers in their recycling.

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