County to expand recycling, but cut voucher system by August.

Beginning in August, curbside recycling customers in unincorporated Kitsap can toss mixed paper, cardboard and most plastics into their recycling bins.

On June 3, Kitsap County Commissioners unanimously approved expanding the recycling program to include those materials, amid a modicum of protest from county residents.

Recycling currently includes newspapers, magazines, glass, milk jugs and basic aluminum or tin products.

Protests centered not on the program’s inclusion of more materials, which is a popular change among many customers, but on the repeal of the county’s recycling voucher program as part of the changes approved Monday.

“It is poor to eliminate the voucher program,” said William Shields, a Chico resident. “I think the matter should go back to the drawing board and the (county) should rethink it.”

County residents with garbage service automatically have recycling service, but not everyone wants to be part of the recycling program and be billed for it.

Enter the voucher program.

The voucher program has allowed residents to transport recyclable material once a month to a designated disposal site, at which time they receive a voucher. In turn, the voucher can be attached to their recycling bill to avoid a service charge.

But the popular program will be jettisoned, since the state Utilities and Transportation Committee (UTC) will be assuming regulatory responsibility for the county’s expanded recycling program and independently establish a fare structure for the service provider.

The UTC can take up to 45 days to implement a fee structure.

Currently, single-family residences are billed $3.30 a month for the service, a fee that has decreased by 30 cents over the last six years.

“The UTC has more staff, time and expertise to study the program and establish the fairest rates for everybody,” said county recycling coordinator Dave Peters.

While it’s unclear exactly what impact the program will have on recycling rates in the county, UTC officials could employ an auditing tool dubbed the Recycling Commodity Adjustment to help moderate costs in the long run.

The goal is to divvy up revenues generated from the sale of recyclable material in the marketplace. Those revenues could bring down the cost of the actual recycling service in the form of a billing rebate.

The program has worked successfully in other Puget Sound jurisdictions, according to UTC officials.

The timing of the adjustment is unclear, but it’s one of several tools being considered to keep costs down. County officials hope the rates will come in at about the same level as they are currently.

Port Orchard resident Dan Roloff is concerned the county is transferring regulatory control to the state.

“The county has kept costs down low in the past and now that could be in jeopardy,” said Roloff, with Corporate Recycling Services of Tacoma. “This is taking away local control.”

County commissioners remained supportive of the changes to the recycling program.

“It does mean change,” Endresen said. “This is 2002, and everybody should be recycling. It’s incumbent upon us to look to the future for our children’s sake.”

Endresen said continuing to fill landfills is not a viable option.

“I receive anywhere from five to six calls a week from citizens concerned about garbage dumped on the sides of the road,” Angel said. “This ordinance provides more alternatives to that and, hopefully, at a better price.”

Botkin said recycling more products could save the county money in the long run.

“The more that is recycled, less material goes in the (garbage) can and the landfill,” Botkin said. “And there is the prospect or the likelihood for a rebate to push costs down still further. If we don’t recycle, the costs would go up anyway.”

Other changes to the recycling program included the refining of recycling service boundaries in the county. Some outlying areas in the far north and south ends of the county were dropped because they lack large population densities and have poor access.

Meanwhile, other neighborhoods with better access and more people were added. The subtractions and additions didn’t amount to a net gain or a loss.

A voluntary yard waste pick up service was also established under the ordinance. The service provides for curbside collection zones for yard waste within the county’s burn ban areas. The idea is to provide an alternative to burning yard waste in those communities.

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