ENTERPRISE — Wallowa County residents for almost 30 years have enjoyed the benefit and convenience of recycling. Due to ever increasing costs, the county is looking at ways to preserve the program with help from members of the community.

The county's recycling department in January stopped receiving tin and glass because it had not found a market to sell those materials. Commissioner Todd Nash, who oversees the county's solid waste program, determined the move was necessary because he said the recycling program costs the county roughly $100,000 a year.

"I have a variety of concerns — the recycling program is a drain on the solid waste budget, the market for the material is dwindling, and it worries me we don't know whether or not that the materials we send out are being properly handled." Nash said.

To continue providing a popular service, Nash invited members of the community to help him develop a plan for the county's recycling program that not only deals with current problems — baled recyclables sitting for months before they are shipped to processors, trash mixed in with sorted material and the cost-burden on the county — but also to encourage Wallowa County residents to take some ownership of the county's solid waste management.

Due to threats to the program, including limiting access to the recycling center in Enterprise to two days a week this summer, a task force of recycling advocates came together this spring. The group is looking at ways to preserve and improve the county's solid waste services - something every Wallowa County citizen relies on.

Peter Ferré, member of recycling task force, said, "Continuing and expanding our recycling program will put less pressure on our landfill, which is at the tail end of its life cycle. Because 60-75 percent of waste in landfills can be recycled and recycling puts less pressure on our environment." 

In the coming months, the group will map out a strategy, with the help of the Wallowa County community at large, to benefit the county government and its budget while looking to better manage a long term, sustainable solid waste program. 

"As a community we have the opportunity to improve the world our children and grandchildren will be living in by preserving and expanding the way we recycle here in Wallowa County," Ferre' said.

The task force invites members of the public to send ideas, questions and  availability to help the task force at wallowacountyrecycling@gmail.com.

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