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Recycling slowly gaining a footing

April 2, 2010

The Jefferson-Belmont Regional Solid Waste Authority is tasked with helping reduce waste in its two-county area of operation.

From cleanup programs to recycling, the organization does its best to ensure Belmont and Jefferson Counties are a little bit nicer to look at and have a little less negative impact on the environment.

Jack Cera, who began his post as the coordinator for the JBRSWA back in October, took to task the prospect of increasing the Authority's impact in the area.

Article Photos

This dropoff location at the city garage in Martins Ferry is just one of many located throughout Belmont and Jefferson Counties.

But he admits it hasn't been the easiest of jobs.

This area poses its own unique set of problems when it comes to getting a full-fledged recycling effort off the ground.

For one, Powhatan Point and its pilot program is the only community in either Jefferson or Belmont County to offer curbside recycling pickup.

All other residents and communities must rely on drop-off locations scattered throughout the area.

''There are communities that are interested in it, but it can be a costly program to start up and keep going,'' Cera said. ''Depending on the usage and amount of people, it's not really a self-supporting process.

''It has to be subsidized in a lot of communities, but it is a more efficient way to do it and get more people involved.''

Another problem that communities run into is that, like St. Clairsville for example, more than one company hauls away the city's trash.

Some communities, like Martins Ferry, operate their own sanitation departments and this isn't a problem. But in most area communities,

Cera said the key would be finding the right hauler interested in handling the recyclables.

That's one reason the Authority sought the consulting expertise of

G.T. Environmental, based in Westerville.

''We hired them to look at the whole process and our operation,'' Cera said.

''They will look into what we could do to implement a little more curbside programs and see how to move forward.''

One major stumbling block for all communities in the area is the lack of a material recovery facility, or MRF.

A MRF has the ability to separate all recyclable materials, items like paper, glass, plastics, package them and ship them off for resale.

Currently, the materials gathered by the JBRSWA, with the exception of paper, are shipped to outlying locations like Pittsburgh, Youngstown and New Philadelphia.

The Authority does have the luxury of taking its paper to Valley Converting in Toronto.

In Belmont County, co-mingled recycling increased from 54,575 pounds during the third quarter of 2007 to 134,000 pounds in the same time frame in 2009.

With participation increasing, the benefits of a local MRF would only grow.

The problem, as Cera explained, is getting such a facility to be constructed locally.

''There are some authorities that do operate their own facilities, but it's very costly to start and also maintain,'' Cera said.

Cera explained that start-up costs could run in the range of several million dollars in equipment alone. A suitable-sized building will need to be found or constructed and then the facility would need to handle enough material to be profitable.

Ideally, Cera believes that the best option would be for a private corporation or entity to construct a MRF in the area. He explained he hasn't heard if any of the commissioners in either county has actively pursued this, but he did hear rumors of talks of such a facility taking place in Jefferson County.

He also mentioned the prospects of communities and authorities on both sides of the river coming together to create a partnership and explore the possibility of a MRF.

''Right now, we're spending too much time trying to figure out our own operations individually,'' Cera said. ''But a MRF would help us with expansion and make it easier to set up curbside programs.''

But the JBRSWA does more than just work with recycling efforts.

The authority also helps to organize community cleanup efforts throughout both Belmont and Jefferson Counties.

Cleanups are scheduled through May in Belmont and clear into July in Jefferson County, with the next set for April 10 in the open lot behind chapter square in Bridgeport.

The idea behind the cleanups is to allow local residents the opportunity to dispose of large and hard to dispose of items that normally cannot be thrown out with the weekly trash collection.

Items like appliances, furniture, tires, you name it, all can be disposed off at these cleanups.

''We pretty much take anything,'' Cera said. ''These are larger items or others that are not readily recyclable.

''Ideally, if someone is bringing items that could be repurposed, like furniture for example, we hope the residents can find ways to donate those items through the Salvation Army or Goodwill for reuse.''

Televisions and other electronics also find their way into the Cleanup dumspters, but Cera added the JBRSWA generally has an electronics-specific cleanup event and asks residents to save such items for that project.

Hughes may be reached at



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