By DesireGrover

Municipalities, townships and boroughs throughout Delaware County have one big thing in common, they are trying to reduce trash waste and save taxpayers money. Delaware County has been moving to recycle since the state passed Act 101 in July, 1988, mandating that large municipalities and counties develop recycling waste management plans. The state also provides grants to offset expenses.
“I just put in for a 902 grant for new recycling trucks so the state does help,” said Joe Okolowski, highway/sanitation supervisor of Upper Chichester. “The more recycling you pick up, the more money you’ll get back from the state.”
Okolowski sees recycling as a great way to help cut the township’s costs on trash management. Not only does the township receive fiscal help from the state, but it also receives money for its recyclables as opposed to spending money to burn the same products.
“Our goal is to get as much of the recycling out of the trash as possible,” said Okolowski. “We’re never going to ‘make money’ on it, but it lowers what we have to pay to county trash. The tipping fees (what municipalities pay to dispose of trash) (for) the regular garbage going to the (Covanta) plant in Chester, is $33 a ton,” he said.
Upper Chichester is still working on the hard numbers to figure out its entire savings, but it is able to boast of sizable savings on what Okolowski calls the “leaf problem.”
“We used to fill up 10 or 12 truckloads of leaves,” he said.
Over time, he realized the township was paying more in labor costs to manage trash during the fall because leaves were being hauled to the incinerator just like regular trash, so he asked the township to try recycling the leaves.
“We saved like $70,000 in the first year and that was before it was $33 a ton,” said Okolowski. “We probably save more than that now.”
Upper Chichester is testing out picking up recyclable trash every week during the summer at least until Labor Day and then it will go back to picking up recyclables every other week.
“Right now we’re trying a new system,” explained Okolowski, “we’re trying to bring recycling up to 25 percent for the summer and we might go to a year ‘round pick up everyday just like trash but we have to see how it works.”
In Yeadon the recycling program has been operating pretty well for about five years. Roy Hunter, of the Recreation Department, says another important component to the recycling program has been the need to reduce the amount of storm water flowing through its water mains.
“Water is a really big issue,” he said, “the more water we can keep out of our sewer system the better off we are because we have to pay to get that water treated,” said Hunter.
Yeadon is an older borough, founded 120 years ago in March 1893, with an aging sewer system. Sewer lateral problems for homeowners have become a problem for the entire borough because rainwater gets into the piping, which increases how much sewer water is sent to Philadelphia for treatment. Currently, an estimated 3,000 houses have damaged laterals in Yeadon and it has cost the borough about $350,000 per ward.
Hunter says they are doing whatever they can to divert storm water away from the treatment plant.
“We’re looking at run-off and the types of surfaces we can use; tree plantings, rain barrel collections to having (property owners’) downspouts rerouted in their yard so that water doesn’t go into the (sewage) system so we’re making a big push with all of those types of things, such as recycling and also water recycling.”
Chester City sees recycling as a way to provide its residents a second trash pickup day since it was announced that the city could not afford a second day of trash pick up, but getting residents to participate appears to be the biggest challenge.
“Right now when I go down the city streets of Chester with our recycling trucks there’s virtually no material (to recycle),” lamented David Diilenno, director of Suburban Waste Services, the city’s current trash collection contractor. “If you would recycle and take a lot of that material that’s going into the (general) trash away from the (general) trash, you would have two day pickup.”
Dillenno believes Chester must increase it’s recycling to divert trash from the incinerator to burn that costs the city money.
“Chester’s recycling program diverts two and a half percent of its trash away from the burner,” said Diilenno. “The real message here is that it’s only two and a half percent when it should be 20 percent. If (recycling) was 20 percent, they wouldn’t need twice a week trash pick up.”
None of the locations mentioned in this story have imposed fines on residents who do not participate in recycling, although by law they can.
“We really don’t get into fining (residents), but I do see that in the future,” said Okolowski. “Right now we’re just trying to encourage them.”

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