By CASEY JUNKINS
The Intelligencer and Wheeling News-Register
WHEELING, W.Va. — Mayor Glenn Elliott said new Wheeling residents are often “disgusted” when they learn municipal workers collect only 19 tons of recyclables each month, compared to 1,500 tons of trash.
Endeavoring to make the Friendly City a more attractive transfer option for employees of firms such as Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe and Williams Lea Tag — both of which maintain operations in Wheeling, as well as San Francisco, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C. and New York City — Elliott and other Wheeling leaders hope to bolster the curbside recycling program by doubling collections this year.
Wheeling’s recycling plan actually began in 1993, but Elliott, Vice Mayor Chad Thalman and City Councilman Brian Wilson said the time has come to take the matter much more seriously.
“I have had many conversations with people who have moved to Wheeling from elsewhere and have been surprised or disgusted at our limited recycling footprint,” Elliott said.
“If we want to compete in the modern world, we cannot disregard modern expectations.”
“Cities in the 21st century are judged by their commitment to issues like recycling,” Elliott added.
A Wheeling ordinance passed Sept. 21, 1993 states: “Each resident of the city shall separate from other solid waste at least aluminum, steel and bi-metal food and beverage cans, clear glass containers and newspaper.”
According to the city’s website, Wheeling now collects magazines, newspapers, aluminum, steel and tin from households for recycling once every two weeks.
Wheeling workers then transport these materials to the J.D. Miller Trucking recycling center, west of St. Clairsville, for processing.
However, there is no mention of recycling plastic, cardboard or glass on the city’s website. In the past, city officials have said plastic presents challenges because they can’t get much return from it due to its light weight.
“They don’t make economic sense right now. We are looking for a way to get more bulk so that they do make economic sense,” Thalman said of plastic and other materials the city does not collect for recycling.
Wilson said the primary goals for the new Ad Hoc Committee on Recycling will be to determine how to increase the tonnage of recycled paper and cans and find a way to make recycling of plastic, glass and cardboard realistic.
“Since March, I have been hosting community meetings to discuss recycling. The ultimate goal is to learn how to implement a robust recycling program,” Wilson said.
“The current program definitely needs modernized.”
Information provided by Wheeling Community Relations Specialist Allison Skibo shows the city now spends about $34,000 on waste sent to landfills. She said an increase in recycling could, therefore, result in a savings for the city.
“We have an obligation to be good stewards of our environment for future generations. The more materials we keep out of area landfills, the better,” Elliott said.
“Recycling is something that young people today care about. Improving our recycling program is just one more small thing the city can do to help make Wheeling a city where young people want to live,” Thalman added.
Residents who need a recycling bin can purchase one for $13.60 at the City-County Building, 1500 Chapline St. New residents can sign up for recycling service when they set up their account with the Water Department.
After purchasing a bin, there is no additional fee for recycling pickup. For questions, call 304-234-3653.
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