Opinion Piece By Samuel Strait – January 10, 2017 – It seems like it was only yesterday, not two years ago, when I found myself sitting next to Jordan Kekry waiting to be called in for Jury Duty in the Del Norte County’s Court House. I knew of Jordan, but beyond his distribution business, and of course the recycling, not a whole lot else. In the next hour while still waiting, I found myself immersed in his telling of his time in the recycling business, the difficulties, the problems, and the sheer cost of the simple idea of recycling solid waste for the people in Del Norte County. Most locals have no idea what effort Mr. Kekry put out for us in the many years Julindra was occupied with making recycling something that both employed locals and returned a great service to this community.
That being said, he made a statement at the time that I felt was rather odd, in that he showed no signs of distress over the inability to make recycling pay for itself. He said that there was a subsidy paid by the State for every material that he collected and in spite of the subsidy he had for some time been supporting the company out of his own pocket. When he passed away about a year ago, I wondered how long Julindra would be able to sustain operations, and now we have the answer, less than a year.
I am sure that Tedd Ward, Executive Director of the Del Norte County Solid Waste Management Authority, and Recology should have been aware of the costs to Julindra before the final curtain dropped on Recology’s partnership with Julindra and single stream curbside recycling “for free”. Now that the partnership has been dissolved and single stream recycling at curbside for free has been shown to be the great hoax that it is, when are the current Solid Waste Commissioners going to realize that Del Norte County residents are for many not in any position to absorb the increased costs of the current ill advised “solution” to the problem. Recycling was already too expensive locally and the solution to the loss of Julindra is to make it more expensive? How is that sensible governing? Didn’t those from the City Council on the Commission learn anything from the Sewer Plant rate hike debacle?
If Del Norte County Solid Waste Management Authority (DNSWMA) is to have any sensible role in the future, it should be looking for ways to reduce or eliminate curb side recycling “for Free” and move towards a system where you either take your recycling to a center like Julindra or you pay for curbside recycling at a level that supports it’s operation. While I realize that this will dramatically reduce the fervor for recycling at the curb, it would make those free loaders who use the free curbside recycling pay their way. It should also be looking for ways to minimize the number of items that are to be collected for recycling and not continue to support anything that is dreamed up by the staff at DNSWMA without being aware of the actual cost to recycle such an item and whether or not it is simply returned to the landfill at some other point in its recycling history. Should the current Commission not understand that what passes for leadership from the Solid Waste staff will only continue to pursue recycling at an escalating cost to the rate payers in complete disregard for their ability to pay for such increases. If such disregard is not halted, then there is no place for the continued existence of the Del Norte Solid Waste Authority Commission, it should be terminated and solid waste would become the job of the County. Hopefully, the County would find someone to conduct the business of solid waste who had a clue about negotiating contracts and would have a little better idea of what is practical within the constraints of the ability of the local population to pay for recycling.
Over the years there has been developed a whole lot of hype of the benefits for recycling without any attention paid to some very obvious difficulties with it. Del Norte County is a place where nearly all those difficulties converge, the perfect storm. I understand that State policies make it difficult to conform with regards to recycling, but at some point attention must be paid to this currently underperforming Joint Power Authority and either fix it or terminate it.