Lewis County's Recycling Success Comes At A PricePosted: Updated:
Recycling helps the environment and helps Lewis County and it's easier to do since the county enacted single-stream recycling in 2016.
But it comes at a cost.
"We've seen an increase of at least 40 percent, maybe even as much as 50 percent tonnage-wise in our recycling department," said Pete Wood, solid waste management recycling director.
More recyclables mean less trash. It's good for Mother Nature, but it causes a financial strain for the county, which has to pay to transfer the recyclables to a center in Utica to be sorted.
"If that trend continues, then the price that you need to charge has to keep continuing to go up," said Lewis County Manager Ryan Piche.
The site charges $79 per ton of garbage or $4.75 for large bags. Rather than increasing that fee, the county is considering charging a small fee for recyclables.
Piche says he doesn't want to discourage people from recycling, but he wants to make sure it's still sustainable for the county.
"We have to keep an eye on the numbers, keep an eye on the fund and make sure that we're able to fund this whole operation year over year," he said.
But help could also come from another source. The county is also working with the Development Authority of the North Country, which could continue to subsidize the site and close the financial gap - all in the effort to keep the county cleaner.