Johnston County Commissioners say they want to be fair when deciding how to make trash disposal in Johnston pay for itself. If so, they will be hard pressed to justify levying a $5 recycling fee on homes and businesses in Johnston towns.
That’s because homes and businesses in most Johnston towns already pay for recycling as part of their monthly sanitation bill.
Most Johnston towns collect garbage, either with their own crews and trucks or through contracts with private haulers like Waste Management. As part of the service, they also offer recycling. And they charge for the entire package – garbage disposal, yard-debris removal and recycling. As one town manager told us, disposal cost “is a part of our fee structure.”
So why should town residents and businesses have to pay a second time for recycling? The answer is, They shouldn’t.
We understand the county is in a bit of a money bind. Its landfill is profitable; its solid waste convenience centers are losing money, lots of it. That’s partly because more people are recycling paper, glass and aluminum, and the county is having to pay a lot of money to have all of that stuff carted away.
Here, by the way, is a lesson in the law of unintended consequences. Once upon a time, recycling companies paid people decent money for their paper, glass and aluminum. But then North Carolina mandated recycling, which created a glut of materials, so much that counties like Johnston are paying substantial sums to have their paper, glass and aluminum carted away.
But Johnston County towns didn’t create that mandate. They do, however, help their residents obey the law by collecting recyclables and charging for the service. It would be unfair to charge them for what they’re already paying for.
We don’t envy County Commissioners, who face the task of making waste disposal pay for itself, partly so they can resume contributing to a fund the state says Johnston must have when it closes its landfill years from now. And it doesn’t help that waste disposal in Johnston is a complicated matter, with towns providing a service the county does not.
But if commissioners are serious when they say fairness is their chief concern in deciding how to proceed, they won’t make homes and businesses pay twice for recycling.