Give Recycling Plan a Fair Test

Officials in Steubenville and Martins Ferry will be watching a recycling pilot program carefully during the next few months. In both communities, the hope is that the initiative can save local residents money, while doing something good for the environment.

Both goals need to be met if the program is to be allowed to proceed.

Curbside recycling services are being offered to slightly fewer than 400 residents in the two communities, by the JB Green Team. Collections began last week in Steubenville, with the program kicking off Tuesday in Martins Ferry.

Participants receive large containers on wheels they can use to store plastic, metal, paper and cardboard refuse. Then, once a week, they wheel the containers to curbs in front of their homes. There, JB Green Team crews pick the recyclables up.

Steubenville Mayor Domenick Mucci hopes recycling can save the city money in landfill fees. Recycling has the potential to be “a win-win for everyone involved,” he said last week.

But as Mucci pointed out, “the success of the program will be determined by the participation.” If not enough people save recyclables and put them out for collection, the program will not make enough money to cover its expenses.

In addition, fluctuations in how much the JB Green Team can sell recyclables for will have an impact on the project’s viability. More than a few municipal recycling programs have been launched with high hopes, only to be sunk by crashing markets for certain recyclable products.

Short-term market fluctuations can be dealt with. But neither Steubenville nor Martins Ferry can bear the cost of collecting tons of material and allowing it to sit in warehouses for months while prices rebound.

Those signed up for the pilot program are to be encouraged to participant in it. The initiative deserves a fair test from the standpoint of quantity of recyclables collected. Again, however, if the project becomes a financial burden for either community, it should be trashed immediately.