Mercer and Lawrence counties could see recycling changes next ye - WFMJ.com News weather sports for Youngstown-Warren Ohio

Mercer and Lawrence counties could see recycling changes next year

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Mercer County, Pa. -

The Blue Bin recycling program in Lawrence and Mercer counties may see major changes come next year.

The contract for the Lawrence-Mercer Recycling/Solid Waste Department's Big Blue Bin program expires at the end of 2018.

County officials say they expect the rates to increase significantly. 

Officials say some drop-off sites could be eliminated depending on how high the rates go.

Both counties currently operate 17 Blue Bin sites, but the ability to continue to support all of those sites beyond this year could be influenced by global forces and actions of county residents. 

Jerry Zona, Director of the Lawrence-Mercer Recycling/Solid Waste Department says global recycling markets are impacting local recycling programs all over the country. 

Zona says a large number of recyclables are exported to foreign markets. California, for example, exports two-thirds of its curbside collected recyclables to foreign markets. Recyclables that were being sent to other countries are now being processed domestically and that has flooded the market, severely impacting the value of the recyclable material.

Zona adds, municipalities across the country have had to increase rates, drop materials or eliminate programs altogether to address the issue.

Megan Gahring, Assistant Director for RSW and Recycling Coordinator for Mercer County, emphasized that residents' poor recycling habits are also a major part of the problem. 

Gahring says instead of recycling only bottles, cans, jars and clean paper, people are also tossing unwanted items like toys, plastic bags, chairs, hoses, siding and windows into their recycling bins.

Big Blue Bins sites all contain Yes/No signage that indicates what can be recycled.

Gahring emphasized, "only bottles, cans, and jars (glass, metal, and plastic) and clean paper (magazines, newspaper, and cardboard) can currently be recycled. This applies to our recycling bins at home and work as well."

Gahring noted that plastic is the most confusing material because it comes in so many forms.

Recycling officials say the only plastics that can be recycled are plastic bottles. No plastic bags, no clamshell containers, no vinyl liners or siding and no toys are permitted.

Zona reminds residents that the Blue Bin sites are not trash dumps.  

Sites are monitored with surveillance equipment and violators will be cited.

He says 30 people were cited for dumping in 2017, resulting in fines for 24 people and community service for six people with minor violations.

Lawrence County officials say they are already preparing the second round of citations for 2018.

Residents that observe illegal dumping can contact the Lawrence-Mercer Recycling/Solid Waste Department at (724) 658-6925.

Officials say a license plate is the most critical piece of information needed, along with the make and model of the vehicle.

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