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In the News

Fayette County: 20 years of recycling with pride

Friday, March 28, 2014


Metal cans at the Fayette County Recycle Center, baled and ready for
market, an important part of
material recovery.

In rural Texas, solid waste services aren’t mandated by the state legislature. They also can be expensive and might not include recycling opportunities. Fayette County, however, shows how it can be done.

“I never met a recycler I did not like,” says Fayette County Commissioner Tom Muras, who administers the Fayette County Recycling Program.

Initiated by Fayette County Judge Ed Janecka in 1993 with solid waste grant funding provided by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality through the Capital Area Council of Governments, the program has received 14 solid waste grants totaling more than $330,000 to address the unique challenges of rural recycling.

Effective network

Adding its own matching funds, the county over 20 years has established an effective and convenient network of public collection stations and mobile drop-off opportunities.

Each Saturday, Fayette County Commissioner Gary Weishuhn facilitates mobile drop-off locations throughout the county, where residents can drop off recyclables, household garbage, motor and transmission oil and large goods such as refrigerators.

The county, which has no local landfill and few rural public solid waste service providers, currently operates three permanent facilities in La Grange, Schulenburg and Flatonia and temporary drop-off sites in Fayetteville, Round Top, Ledbetter, Carmine and Ellinger.

The county also must pay to transport and dispose of household garbage and some other items and thus established a “Buy the Bag” trash bag program, offering color-coded bags priced by capacity and offered at nominal price in county hardware stores and at the county public collection stations.

Service costs 

Each of the eight public collection stations takes all recyclables, and residents can drop off household hazardous waste and other materials — fridges, freezers, air conditioners, washing machines, water heaters and oil filters, for example — at the La Grange location. Applicable fees range from 50 cents to $25, depending on the type of item collected.

With the rising costs of green waste management and the increasing amount of green waste being brought to the La Grange location from fire mitigation management and planning initiatives, the county has initiated a fee schedule for limbs and brush, based on trailer size or pickup.

To help further close the recycling loop, the program offers some materials while supplies last — crushed polished glass is free to county residents, for example, and compost is just $5 a bucket load or $10 per pickup load. In addition, the county now accepts electronics for reuse at the Schulenburg and La Grange public collection stations.

Outcomes

In the last twelve months, Fayette County has recycled 308 tons of newsprint; 42 tons of scrap metal; 67 tons of plastics; 277 tons of cardboard and 4,089 gallons of used oil, earning more than $43,000. Still, it’s looking to grow the program, including boosting the percentage of participating residents, businesses and schools.

To Commissioner Muras, the program’s like a successful sports franchise: “We try to keep building a Super Bowl-caliber team, and with recycling we’re almost there. All we need are some citizen-type special team players to fill out our roster.”

> Discover recycling in Fayette County
> Get a copy of the regional Environmental Law Enforcement Guide
> Register by April 10 for the RETF's April 17 Basic Environmental Law Class 

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