For the past eight years, Harrison County has had a plan in place to reduce the amount of garbage dumped in area landfills.
Although the county's recycling ordinance requires residents to separate specific items from their garbage, and trash service providers to offer a recycling plan, it has not been enforced.
But now, county commissioners want to give that law some teeth. They plan to meet with the Harrison County Solid Waste Authority within the next few weeks to discuss revamping the ordinance, commission President Roger Diaz said.
"The one we have now was put in place in 1992," he said. "Since then, the articles to be recycled has changed. In 1992, there were certain items that could be recycled for a profit, or to break even. The (current) ordinance is specific toward those."
In addition to broadening the recyclable items, commissioners want to develop a way to enforce the code, Diaz said.
"We included in the ordinance certain penalties for not recycling," he said. "But when it was written, no enforcing agency was identified to see to it that the ordinance was enforced."
At a recent meeting, commissioners Diaz, Beth Taylor and Thomas Keeley indicated that no enforcement mechanism was included in the code because they wanted to get county residents and garbage service companies used to recycling.
At the time, the enforcement provision was not seriously addressed, but now is the time to do so, Diaz said.
"We implemented this ordinance eight years ago," he said. "I think it's time to revisit it."
But providing a way to enforce the code is not the only revision commissioners want to make. The ordinance currently contains a list of items residents must separate to be recycled, including plastic containers, aluminum, bi-metal and steel beverage cans and newsprint.
For businesses, that list includes high-grade office paper, clear glass, computer ribbons, tires, and textiles.
But today, other recycling options are available, Diaz said.
"It's come to our attention that there are now other materials that can be recycled," Diaz said. ". . . sizable businesses would be able to recycle those items rather than put it in with their other solid waste. Many of them may already be doing it."
The ordinance does not only address residents, but also garbage service providers, Keeley said.
"When we created this, we wanted to put most of the burden on the haulers," he said. "That way, it would apply to non-Harrison County garbage coming into our landfills.
"We didn't think it would be right to require our citizens to recycle, when those in other counties would be sending their garbage here. In effect, we will be enforcing a region-wide recycling ordinance."
Harrison commissioners have said they don't want recycling to be a burden on county residents. That is why Diaz plans to propose establishment of several sites in the county where residents can bring their recyclables, he said.
"I want us to look at setting up two or three sites out in the county where people can routinely drop off the items to be recycled," he said.
That will make the practice easier for those in rural areas, he said.
No date has been set for the commission's meeting with the waste authority, Diaz said.