Report reveals authority’s positive impact

BROOKVILLE — The Jefferson County Solid Waste Authority Wednesday released a report that documented the authority's positive effect on the environment.

According to the report, which was issued by the North East Recycling Council, the authority's recycling programs collected 17,086.2 tons of waste, such as paper, glass, metals, plastics, wood and computers that were used during production of new items.

The reuse and recycling of those items reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 5,329.76 metric tons of carbon equivalents for the year. Curbside recycling alone accounted for 3,060.78 of those tons.

Similarly, the conservation programs saved a total of 173,809.53 million British Thermal Units (BTUs) of energy, which was an amount equal to 0.01 percent of the energy used by industries in all of Pennsylvania, the report said.

The report also projected the savings that the recycling programs generated to the virgin materials of the state. It concluded that 335.48 tons of limestone, 5,268.87 tons of iron ore and 2,950.57 tons of coal were saved, along with lesser amounts of soda ash and feldspar.

The recycling of paper, including newspapers, phone books, textbooks and magazines, resulted in "forest carbon sequestration benefits equal to 199,867 tree seedlings grown for 10 years. The paper recycling also saved 8,675 cubic yards of landfill space.

"These numbers are supposed to give us all the environmental good-feel," authority coordinator Donna Cooper said.

Cooper said the report was possible because the final tonnage report for the county's 2009 recycling efforts was recently reached. More than 400 fewer tons were recycled this year, but Cooper attributes that largely to a decline in consumerism.

"Waste is going down, but recycling is not really going up," she said. "We are such a throw-away society that we continue to buy things and throw the waste away, but people are buying less because of the economy."

The tonnage amounts reported by the waste haulers determine the amount of state funding that the authority receives. Last year, it received just under $25,000, and Cooper initially estimated an award of about $23,300 this year.

A state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) representative recently contacted Cooper, though, and the projected award is now only slightly more than half of that which was originally projected.

Cooper said the state, in an effort to save money from the recycling fund, is likely to multiply the tonnage report by 0.6, and the reduced tonnage total will be used to determine the funding allocations.

Using the 0.6 multiplier, Cooper estimates the state award to be less than $14,000.

The authority often has expenditures greater than $10,000 per month, and the future of the authority is in question if state funding is not increased.

"Our budget is really going to look bad this year," Cooper said. "Especially if the multiplier is used."

Authority Chairman David Gordon said indications from the Gov.-Elect Tom Corbett were not encouraging.

"We have a governor saying he opposes all new taxes," he said. "The question is: How do you convince them that it isn't a tax?"

Cooper said she recently received a newsletter from Corbett's office outlining the goals and objectives of the incoming administration.

"The word recycling was used only once, and that was dealing with the recycling of Marcellus Shale water," she said. "That cannot be good."

Cooper said she will continue to make phone calls to local townships and boroughs in hopes of securing donation dollars in lieu of state funding. So far, the authority has received $7,725. The donation requests started last year, and county municipalities donated a total of $8,450 last year.

"We'll continue to ask," Cooper said. "I'm hoping that they haven't done their budget yet, and that some more donations will be made whenever those budgets are approved."

The authority renewed membership with the Professional Recyclers Of Pennsylvania (PROP) in hopes that the lobbying group will be able to sway legislative action.

Right now, however, PROP is instructing Cooper not to place any calls to state representatives. The authority moved to maintain a relationship with PROP because of fringe benefits.

"I have a hard time supporting them when they are not willing to do anything (to affect legislation)," she said. "I do get my state certification through them, and it is at a reduced rate for a member. That is really the one benefit."

Not embarrassed by the funding crunch, the authority moved to begin asking for donations from the general public. Cooper presented a flyer that could be mailed to the authority with a private donation.

Authority member Amy Brubaker asked whether the flyer would be mailed to residents, and Cooper said it would not be. Instead, it can be printed off the authority's Web said.

Cooper said direct mailing would cost between $4,000 and $5,000, and that typically only six to eight percent of recipients respond with monetary donations.

"We will not distribute, because we do not have that kind of money," Cooper said.