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County Council, May 1

Novel approach to trash collection in busy areas

Warwick Jones

It was another lean agenda for the Finance Committee. And predictably, it was a short meeting, at least that part before the executive session.

The only item discussed was the approval for staff to pursue a grant for $96,000 from the Southeast Recycling Development Council (SERDC) to be used to implement a pilot scheme for the collection of recyclables. The scheme has been tried in Savannah and elsewhere with success. The County hopes to try it at Marion Square and if successful, at other points in the County.

The scheme is interesting and we show below extracts from the public information package.

“Downtown Charleston was identified as an area to pilot and use as a model to expand to other areas in the County. A challenge to recycling downtown is the general lack of recycling containers in place to deposit material. However, visitors and residents alike are forced to place recyclable material in open top steel garbage baskets simply because there are no recycling bins present on sidewalks.

“Staff proposes to improve existing efforts to collect recyclables in public spaces by introducing “BigBelly” solar waste and recycling stations, which leverage renewable solar energy and information technology to effectively recover solid waste. These "smart" dual stations are equipped with a non-compacting single stream recycling bin directly next to a trash compactor.

“This operation, with recycling and waste collection paired together, is essential for capturing recyclables without excessive contamination”.

SERDC and a broad range of interested industry participants have convened a process called SERDC120 to explore opportunities for private-public funding partnerships designed to assist local recycling program performance. The primary goal of the SERDC 120 process is to increase recycling tonnage and participation.

Charleston County's recycling program is one of 20 municipalities in the Southeast to be contacted regarding a potential partnership. The County is required to provide a $26,000 match if it receives the grant.

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The Executive Session added probably about 20 minutes to yesterday’s meeting. The only decision made it seems was to discuss in committee procedural issues relating to executive meetings and informing the public. There was also discussion at the close of the Finance Committee meeting as whether some questions directed at the County Attorney should be addressed by the Administrator. The Chairman also asked Council members to raise issues with staff over agenda items before meetings. He noted that the agenda was published almost a week before a Finance Committee meeting and that members had plenty of time to read it. If they raised their issues before hand, staff could better address them at the meeting.

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