Panel opts to focus on recycling over waste-to-energy plan

Reduce. Reuse. Recycle.

That's not just a concept taught by elementary school teachers around Earth Day, it's also a high-priority for York County's solid waste committee.

The group of residents put recycling options -- such as sorting trash after it's collected and crushing construction waste -- above researching a waste-to-energy facility and determining needs for a commercial and demolition landfill.

"Recycling is important to reduce the amount of trash coming into landfills," said Marc Tarplee, a committee member representing York Technical College.

Joe Readling from HDR Engineering led the group Tuesday in prioritizing what aspects of the solid waste plan it should address first. HDR is providing resources and technical support needed to make a recommendation to the York County Council.

Recycling ideas could impact residents and businesses alike. The committee discussed exploring options such as enhancing the transfer station to include sorting, composting residential trash, crushing C&D materials and curbside recycling countywide.

Incentives also were mentioned to increase participation.

For now, exploring a waste-to-energy facility, which has been on some council members' minds for months, will take a back seat to reducing what's being put in the landfills.

York County Manager Jim Baker said he believes a waste-to-energy plant should at least be studied to determine its realistic capacity, pros and cons and costs.

Examining the population and waste generation rates were given a lower priority. These rates were a point of controversy earlier this year when the solid waste plan was approved; previous predictions said no C&D landfills are needed until 2013.

Baker suggested instead of having the group create its own population and waste generation numbers, they should select a set of reputable numbers to use.

Ranked low on the list is building the county's own residential trash landfill, only because current legislation won't allow one now. That legislation is being reviewed, Readling said.

The group will start researching recycling options when it meets Jan. 8.