We Shouldn’t Need Incentive To Recycle

Recycling is the law in New York state – not that much of Jamestown notices.

The percentage of Jamestown residents who recycle isn’t pretty. About 38 percent of city residents recycle plastic, 35 percent recycle paper and 19 percent recycle glass. It is unfortunate, because recycling is better for the environment and for Board of Public Utilities’ ratepayers wallets. Recycling helps keep garbage and recycling fees steady for BPU customers because the more items that are taken out of garbage decreases the amount the BPU has to pay to the county landfill when Jamestown garbage is taken to be buried. The less the BPU has to pay in landfill fees, the more BPU solid waste fees can remain the same.

Much has been done to increase recycling participation in the past, but participation just hasn’t increased much. So, BPU officials are thinking about appealing to city residents’ wallets.

One program would be to charge a lower rate for those who recycle and a higher rate for those who do not recycle. Early discussions are $10 for recyclers each month and $20 for those who don’t recycle. The utility would keep track by having new recycling collection containers and electronic equipment on recycling trucks to keep track of who recycles and who doesn’t. Another option is to charge ratepayers by the pound for garbage; so the less a person puts in garbage bags, the less they pay each month.

No final decisions have been made and there is still much discussion needed, but it is obvious something must change to entice Jamestown residents to recycle. Nonrecyclers are one reason Chautauqua County needs to add another cell at the county landfill. Not only are nonrecyclers costing fellow BPU ratepayers, they are costing county taxpayers as well.

It shouldn’t take incentives to make people recycle, but it appears awareness and education programs haven’t helped the situation much. Perhaps a financial incentive each month will make a difference.