Short, the Department of Natural Resources & Environmental
Control's liaison with the Recycling Public Advisory Council,
told the council that Governor Ruth Ann Minner's staff is
"working on their version of the legislation" which would
establish such a program.
"They're trying to come up with a version that has a good chance
of passing," he said.
if that meant the plan which the council, in conjunction with
the department and the Delaware Solid Waste Authority, hammered
out during a year's worth of discussion, debate and public
comment is dead, Short replied simply, "Yes."
proposal we made is not going to be adopted," said Paul
Wilkinson, chairman of the council. "I don't know how it's going
to come out. I'm sure it's not going to come out the way it went
council-produced legislation called for requiring all households
in the state to separate recyclables from general trash and for
private trash-hauling firms to offer separate collection of that
material. They would be entitled to add the additional
incremental cost to the fees they charge. The waste authority
would process the recyclables for resale. Most yard waste would
be banned from the authority's landfills with householders
required to mulch, compost or otherwise dispose of it.
appointed council member George Wright, executive director of
the League of Local Governments, acknowledged that "one reason
this bill is delayed is that municipalities oppose the bill in
its present form."
Specifically, he said, the provision in the draft legislation
which council submitted with its report to the governor that
would appropriate $5 million to be distributed in the form of
grants to assist municipalities meet capital costs involved with
initiating mandatory recycling within their jurisdictions is
inadequate. Excluding cities and towns which contract with
private haulers for trash service is particularly objectionable,
said the league is "in total support" of recycling and efforts
to increase public participation. "I will support a bill which I
think is beneficial to municipalities, but nothing that is
detrimental to them," he said.
Elsmere town manager John Giles said the council-proposed
legislation had no provision for municipalities that entered
into long-term contracts with private haulers because they were
unable to afford to do their own collecting.
council received the status report at its meeting on Apr. 20
with a mixture of resignation and muted disappointment.
said that Minner's decision to back off from the council's
proposal does not sound a death knell for recycling. Her
proposal "will keep the issue alive and moving forward," he
said. "The issue is not dead in the governor's office."
included significantly increasing the rate at which Delawareans
recycle as one of her priorities in her 'state of the state'
message to the Assembly.
may be a hundred different ways to accomplish what we want to
accomplish," Wilkinson said. The goal is diversion of at least
30% of residential waste from landfills through recycling.
think we understood going in that there are a number of things
in [the council's proposal] that would not be acceptable," he
Wilkinson said that the impediments are more fundamental than
aid to municipalities. The added cost of recycling -- estimated
by the council to run between $3 and $7 a month per household --
and "that one word, 'mandatory'," are difficult to overcome.
came up with the best balance [of competing interests] that we
could. ...Unfortunately, it didn't get enough people in this
state saying we need recycling. There was no loud voice out
council was told that no legislator had been willing to sponsor
Neither Wilkinson nor Short offered any indication of the
direction the governor's staff might be taking. "They're playing
it very close to the vest," Wilkinson said. Responding earlier
to a Delaforum inquiry, a press spokesperson in the governor's
office would say only that work on proposed legislation was
Although the council did not attempt at its meeting to forge a
response, there seemed to be something of a consensus emerging
during the discussion that supporting a pilot program, rather
than an all-encompassing statewide one, might be the way to go.
the state to put up money for a test program. Get some idea
[about] what would be a successful program we can buy into,"
Marlene Rayner, of the Sierra Club, who is not a member of the
council, endorsed that approach. "Just get it done," she said.
Coincidentally, the meeting heard a presentation by Blue
Mountain Recycling, a Philadelphia-based company which provides
a commercial 'single-stream' recycling operation for the city
and some townships in southeastern Pennsylvania using what it
describes as sophisticated new technology to sort recyclables.
Herb Northrop, a partner in the firm, said it is interested in
expanding into northern Delaware. 'Single stream' refers to
disposing of recyclable material in one container, rather than
requiring householders having to separate it by categories.
Another firm, Recycle Bank, operating in conjunction with Blue
Mountain, offers subscribers discount coupons redeemable at
participating stores. Based on the volume of material a
household recycles, the value of the coupons can be up to $25 a
month, which well exceeds the added cost of recycling and the
$1.50 a month subscription fee, according to Ron Gonen, who made
firms claim to have produced significant and rapid increases in
there is a business opportunity, come in and do it," said
Pasquale Canzano, the waste authority's chief operating officer.
Nothing in the authority's franchise bars a commercial recycling
firm from operating in Delaware. "We've always said, let the
free market prevail," he said.
said the authority's voluntary subscription program could be
considered something of a pilot program. To date, he said, 3,400
households in New Castle County are participating -- at a cost
of $6 a month -- recycling, on average, 28 lbs. a week.
authority is negotiating an arrangement with officials in the
city of New Castle which could result in a reduced-rate citywide
collection there. There already is such an arrangement with
Arden. It is planned to extend the program into Kent County next