Delaware recycling rate hits 40%

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERADelaware officials took note  state’s 40 percent recycling diversion rate, which continues to rise, and by the expansion of recycling services into the commercial sector by Jan. 1, 2014. The national rate was 34 percent as of 2009, according to the Keep American Beautiful campaign.

Delaware’s Recycling Public Advisory Council (RPAC) recently released its annual report, which includes statewide recycling measurements. The study found recycling rates are up and landfills are being filled up  at a lower rate.

Two  new material recovery facilities have opened to process the increase in recyclable materials generated in Delaware. The expansion of recycling activities and operations has resulted in new investment and dozens of new jobs for Delaware.

The Universal Recycling Law was  signed by Gov. Jack Markell in 2010. It remains possible that Delaware will reach the recycling diversion goal of 50 percent by 2015. Prior to the passage of the law the state’s recycling rate was in the 20 percent range, one of the lowest in the nation.

The first major milestone of the Universal Recycling law was single-family residential recycling, which sent into effect in  September 2011. The next milestone was multi-family residential recycling, which went into effect on  January 1 of this year. The final component of this law is recycling in the commercial sector – which includes Delaware businesses, non-profits, and institutions – with an implementation deadline of Jan. 1, 2014.

“Delawareans are recycling more, throwing out less and saving money in the process,” said DNREC Secretary Collin O’Mara. “All of this is reflected in our rising diversion rate. Over the next few years, we’ll be working with the commercial sector to help double the rate for commercial recycling in Delaware to help businesses, companies and institutions achieve the statewide goals of the Universal Recycling Law.. We want every Delawarean to have access to recycling at home, at work and everywhere in between – and the commercial sector opportunities will push us toward the statewide goal of 50 percent diversion.”

There is some debate about the economic impact of recycling, due to its overall costs. Efforts are under way to make containers and other products less expensive to process, thereby reducing  those costs.

For many years, the Delaware Solid Waste Authority was not an enthusiastic backer of recycling efforts, preferring to operate free-standing recycling bins in public places.

The recycling rate rose dramatically when single-stream recycling came into play, with haulers required to offer a separate container for recyclables under the legislation.

A related issue is yard waste. In northern Delaware DNREC largely uses private operators at  drop-off points. Yard waste service is available from private haulers.

The Recycling Public Advisory Council’s annual report is also available on the DNREC website.

Doug Rainey contributed to this story.

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