In an effort to keep West Virginia’s oldest town consistently facing both a modern present and a sustainable future, Shepherdstown’s leadership works diligently to uphold a range of ‘green’ standards and practices.
Shepherdstown’s recent cigarette recycling efforts, since being implemented in December, have seen positive results, with sidewalks and streets outside of recognized smoking establishments noticeably less cigarette-strewn.
An ongoing issue surrounds recycling. Shepherdstown already boasts one of the most modern and comprehensive curb-side recycling programs in the region. On average, the Corporation recycles approximately 70 tons per year. And up until last month, it was mostly “single-stream”—meaning residents could put paper, plastic, and glass in the same recycling bin and simply place it out on the curb.
But a recent press release announced a change. Due to a national trend that is now affecting Shepherdstown, the state of West Virginia, along with Apple Valley Recycling Center (Shepherdstown’s recycling vendor), can no longer accept glass of any color.
According to a source at Apple Valley Recycling Center, recycled glass is no longer in demand. Unfortunately, the aforementioned trend has been moving toward a reduction or elimination of glass the last several years—according to Frank Welch, Shepherdstown’s Public Works Director.
West Virginia isn’t the only state that has lost its market for recycling glass. Maryland and Virginia have also lost their market(s).
So, what does this mean for Shepherdstown? Effective immediately, the Corporation of Shepherdstown and Apple Valley Waste Recycling Center require that glass no longer be placed in the recycling bins. They now must be included with the regular trash pick-up.
City officials are disheartened by this change, and offered an apology through the press release—and the Corporation is exploring alternatives for the town’s glass products.
Change being what it is, while Shepherdstown manages the new glass situation, there are still additional recycling topics to examine.
“One of the biggest issues we’re dealing with is plastic bags and Styrofoam,” said Town Recorder Lori Robertson. “We’re going to introduce a survey—in order to examine the issue more thoroughly with local businesses. In an age where environmental laws are being rolled back, we want to be able to do more.”
Robertson, and Mayor Jim Auxer, emphasize that this is literally phase one—the survey phase—where they can start to gather feedback from locals, as well as businesses on how to move forward in addressing the issue of plastic bags and Styrofoam.
Many businesses that utilize either one or both to package their products (often food) will argue that it’s a cost issue, a food quality/integrity issue, and/or even a spillage concern. And without a doubt, plastic bags, especially, are cheap and abundant. Unfortunately, it’s estimated that plastic bags will take at least 500 years to decompose, and Styrofoam even longer, if at all. They also both seriously disrupt the recycling process when tossed in with regular recycling.
As Robertson and Auxer point out, it’s all about this first phase. “It’s complicated, we want to be aware of the materials that people use and figure out ways to help them out and have discussions,” underlined Auxer. “But we really want people to respond to the survey—we want to start this conversation.”
For more information, visit Shepherdstown Recycling on Facebook.By Mike Chalmers