Letter: A clean environment is a luxury

Dear Editor,

When I was informed that the legislature intended to curtail county-wide recycling services in lieu of individuals being responsible for “doing the right thing” by either taking recycling to the transfer station themselves or by engaging their garbage hauling service to do so, my first reaction was that we would soon begin to see garbage everywhere, along our currently clean roads. 

The people who are anticipated to rebel at any tax increase are not people who are going to pay more, given the choice, to have their garbage and recycling taken away separately. The outcome will be that the recycling will go in with the garbage. Or it will be left “out back” for some later time that will never arrive. Some folks will burn it; even the plastics, releasing toxins for their neighbors to breathe.

Early in my first year on the Tioga County Legislature, 2002, there was much discussion on the subject. You may know that Tioga County does not have a landfill. We are not responsible for the maintenance and perpetuation of a hazardous pit that is capable of polluting groundwater. We export our waste to the Seneca Meadows Landfill in Seneca County. In 2002, the landfill was experiencing extreme volume increases and we were informed we might not be able to use it any longer. 

The legislature was forced to consider opening our own landfill, with all that that entailed. (I would suggest you Google Seneca Meadows and see what their requirements appear to be.)  We determined that keeping the great volume of recyclables out of the waste stream was better in all regards for the taxpayers and users. In the event Seneca gives us the same ultimatum, building and maintaining our own landfill does not sound like any sort of win/win. Except possibly for the single landowner who will claim the jackpot having sold his/her farm for the use.

We are way better off keeping the status quo, even as recycling has become more of an expense, and less remunerative to the Taylor Garbage Service, or any other recyclers. This is due to the wholesale change in importation of the recyclables by China. 

Taylor Garbage Service is local, employs local workers, and has dutifully complied with all of their requirements over all of these years. They maintain a fleet of trucks for the task. We are still better off paying slightly more now to have them store all of the plastics than living with the trash along the highways and the expense of creating a landfill. 

And yes, you might have to pay a little more, because China is paying less. A clean environment is a luxury I don’t care to give up to save a few dollars. 

Ultimately, we will be forced to the inevitable conclusion that making single-use containers from oil is unsustainable, dumb, even.


Mark Trabucco

Owego, N.Y.

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