LAWRENCEVILLE - Commissioner Mike Beaudreau's citizen's trash committee listened to the thoughts of waste haulers while also hearing the public's input for the final time Monday night in Gwinnett's ongoing trash debate.
The committee's arduous task now is to offer a recommendation to the Board of Commissioners that somehow balances sound public policy against the desires of the residents and the nine waste haulers who currently offer residential, garbage and recycling pickup service to Gwinnett households.
According to committee chairman Mike Royal, they're shooting to offer their recommendations, in what form nobody knows yet, to Beaudreau by March 17. Royal also said the committee has been listening to people's concerns.
"You can replicate each of the meetings we've had throughout the county, and it's been said by many people that a lot of the same issues have come up," Royal said. "And we're here because the process did fail. But we're also here because we do believe Gwinnett can be better."
If Monday's meeting was at all indicative of the five meetings prior, residents want free choice in who their hauler is, want fewer waste trucks driving through their neighborhoods and would like the ability to increase the amount of goods recycled and the number of households who participate in recycling.
One of the goals of Gwinnett's new solid waste plan and a desire of the state is to reduce the amount of waste that goes to landfills by 20 percent. When Red Oak Sanitation's Anthony Grutadaurio spoke from a hauler's perspective, he said statistics indicated that only about 30 percent of Gwinnett households participate in recycling.
According to LuAnn Chambers of SP Recycling Corporation, which handles most of Gwinnett County's recycling tons from the haulers who work in it, the key to achieving that goal is increased education on behalf of the haulers and on behalf of the county.
"Make it (recycling) as easy and as available as possible and get the word out there," Chambers said. "There was a lot more visibility when it first started in the early '90s, and then there was this assumption afterwards that everybody just knows," Chambers said. "It needs to get real visible again."
For example, she said the 35 items that were being touted under the new trash plan as being available for recycling were mostly items SP Recycling has handled since 2004.
Chambers also stated at the meeting's onset that had the county's new solid waste plan gone forward, the Lawrenceville-based SP Recycling would have eventually gone out of business. Being forced out of business was why local haulers Southern Sanitation and Sanitation Solutions initially fought the now-invalid 2008 solid waste plan. Chambers also said the county's multi-million-dollar recycling operation on Cedars Road, which construction on has since been halted, would have been a huge waste of millions of taxpayer dollars.
"SP Recycling presently processes the tons that Gwinnett Clean and Beautiful wanted to flow control through the new facility," Chambers said. "Private industry is already doing the processing and at no cost to the county."