Testimony heard concerning the future of recycling

An Onondaga County recycling agency will make a recommendation to the county legislature in the next few weeks concerning the future of recycling, a county official said Thursday.

The Onondaga County Resource Recovery Agency, also known as OCRRA, heard testimony from more than 10 agencies concerning separating recyclable materials, in a meeting conducted Wednesday, said OCRRA spokesman Andy Brigham.

The testimony centered around two-stream recycling – the separation of papers from other recyclable materials – as opposed to single-stream recycling – which mixes paper in with everything else, according to a release from Citizens Campaign for the Environment.

The agency, along with several other environmental groups, has sought to pass legislation requiring collectors to separate recyclable materials, said Dereth Glance, program coordinator for the Citizens Campaign for the Environment.

Currently, collectors have a choice of separating paper, said Glance.

“The collectors shouldn’t decide what the policy for the county is,” said Martin Sage of the local Sierra Club. “They should be consulted, but the decision should be a political decision. It should have impact from the public, the board and the environmental organizations.”

A continuation in single-stream recycling would result in reduced quality of recycled goods as well as more recyclable material being thrown away, according to the release.

“You get a better product with double-stream recycling than with single-stream,” Sage said. “The history of single-stream recycling is not all that positive.”

OCRRA will deliberate over the testimony before making any recommendations to the legislature, Brigham said. No date has been set for the vote.

Regardless of what happens, Brigham stressed the importance of residents to continue to be active. OCRRA sent a postcard to all residents this month, urging residents to separate paper from the rest of the material and also offering additional recycle bins if needed.

“Residents have done a superb job with recycling,” Brigham said. “We just want residents to keep separate the plastics and the papers so the choice can be made (by collectors). The one thing we want to assure the community is that materials are being recycled.”

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