County working on solid waste plan

A little over 41,000 people can generate a lot of garbage.

Every ten years, Pennsylvania counties are tasked with figuring out where all the trash from those residents and the associated businesses and services that go with them will go when they formulate their solid waste plan.

Warren County is working toward formulating its solid waste plan to carry it through the next decade.

It’s not as simple as just sending things to the dump though. The county has to project waste production and ensure landfill space is available for the next ten years, plan garbage collection and provide a blueprint for area recycling programs, tasks that require a lot of behind the scenes planning.

“The solid waste plan deals with garbage collection, the recycling program and contracting with local landfills to take solid waste,” Glotz said. “It boils down to, you’ve got the garbage and the recycling and then all these other thing that need to be in place like the construction and demolition waste, the medical waste, the industrial waste; and where’s it all going to go.”

Solid waste planning dates to the 1970s according to Glotz, and Warren County had a pretty straightforward task for two decades.

“It got a little more involved in the 1990s with the closing of the Grunderville Landfill,” Glotz noted. “Our plan ten years ago took a little longer (to complete) because of recycling. I think everyone wants to recycle, but making recycling cost effective is tough to do.”

The county itself is responsible for the plan, under the guidance of the county commissioners.

“It will involve the county commissioners and the county’s planning department,” Glotz said. “The county also has to have in place a solid waste advisory committee.

According to Glotz, the advisory committee, which is currently being formed, will include representatives from the City of Warren, county boroughs, county townships, industries that generate certain waste types, companies that handle solid waste collection and disposal, civic and environmental groups and the county recycling coordinator.

“We include a representative from one of the hauling companies here in the county as well,” Glotz noted. “In the past, we’ve also included a representative from the county solid waste authority. The advisory committee and the solid waste authority are two different entities and people get them confused a lot. They’re not one and the same. The advisory committee is responsible for reviewing and providing input to the plan. The solid waste authority implements the plan.”

Solid waste authority members are appointed by the county commissioners and, in Warren County, act as a whole in the capacity of solid waste coordinator.

The public also gets the opportunity to contribute to the plan.

“As the draft develops, it will be made available to the public for comment and review,” Glotz said. “We will have to address those comments and concerns in the plan.”

The final step will be plan adoption by the county commissioners.

According to Glotz, the advisory committee is in the formative stage and the next step for the county will be filling out the paperwork for a Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection grant to fund the process.

“The first thing, once we get things rolling, is we will be collecting data,” Glotz said. “How much and what waste is being generated and where is it going. Where will it be going for the next ten years. We will be contracting with landfills to guarantee they will be accepting the county’s waste for the next ten years and have the capacity for it.

“All of this would include data capture and analysis to give us a picture of what is out there as far as waste and quantity in the county and what it will be for the next ten years based on demographics.”

To aid in capturing and calculating all this data, the county recently signed a contract with Nestor Resources to consult on the plan update process.

“The update consists of a lot of pieces,” Glotz said. “So there’s a lot of data gathering and analysis.”

Beyond a description of waste generated, the county must provide a description of facilities which will take the waste.

“Where is this going to?” Glotz said. “We have a number of landfills that we’ve contracted with in the past. It needs to address all of the waste types mentioned.”

Another component will be addressing recycling in the county.

While the City of Warren is the only municipality required to maintain curbside recycling by law in the county, due to population; its program is not the only component of recycling in the county.

Glotz recalled recycling was originally paid for through a tipping fee collected at landfills based on tonnage of waste. A court ruling later decided landfills were not required to charge the fee.

“At that time, it was economically viable to run the program,” Glotz said. “So what you’re seeing now is municipalities running a recycling program are now self-funding the programs.

“The solid waste plan has to take the county recycling strategy into consideration. Everything we’ve talked about is included and then there’s an education component as well. We also need to outline what are our long term goals with recycling.”

Glotz estimates the solid waste planning process will take between one and one and-a-half years to complete.