Proposed county recycling center is response to public demand

Staff writer

Venango County’s recycling and solid waste coordinator says plans for a collection center in the county are in response to public demand for a convenient and efficient collection program.

“One question I get from a lot of people who move here is what to do about recycling,” Erik Johnson said. “It has been a request from residents since a lot of bins have been taken away from the rural locales.”

The county is considering a lease on part of Cranberry School District’s maintenance building to establish a fixed collection point, which would receive paper, plastic, metal cans, electronics, tires and hazardous household waste.

If the county is approved for a $350,000 grant through the Department of Environmental Protection, those funds will be used to purchase equipment for the collection center.

Johnson said that equipment would include a cardboard bailer, a skid-steer and a box truck to facilitate the sale of cardboard to paper mills.

“That will offset some of the costs via revenue and provide an educational factor for some of the local schools and workplaces,” Johnson said.

Johnson said the amount of people who have been showing up to periodic collection events held in the Cranberry Mall parking lot has driven home the need for a facility.

The building under consideration is on Route 257 next to Joe Taylor Ford.

Johnson envisions a public-private partnership to handle collection of household hazardous waste and restoring the building’s loading dock for collecting tires.

While Franklin and Oil City are mandated by state law to offer recycling services, the service isn’t mandated in more rural areas.

Johnson said a 2014 county ordinance requires sanitation services to offer recycling pick-up as part of their service packages.

“We’re not making people recycle,” he said. “We’re saying to haulers, you must offer that service if you operate in this county.”

But Johnson said there may be a legal loophole in the language.

“The way some of them are getting around it is by saying, ‘You have to bring it to us,'” Johnson said. “The language (in the ordinance) isn’t specific enough to avoid that.”

The ordinance reads:

“All transporters who collect municipal waste from residential sources must offer

to their customers the collection of recyclables included and bundled in the price of the municipal waste collection

service. No discounts or rebates shall be offered to customers who do not use the recycling collection services.”