Charleston City Council finally passes recycling bill requiring bags

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Charleston City Council at last voted Monday night to require the use of plastic bags instead of just plastic bins for curbside recycling pickup in the city.

The bill was recommitted to the council two weeks ago, but this time it was passed unanimously with the exception of a “no” vote from Cubert Smith. Councilman Ed Talkington, also the Chairman of the Recycling Committee, said it’s the best option right now to ensure that recycled material stays dry.

“We have a situation where Raleigh County is asking us to bring everything as dry as possible,” he said. “About 40 percent of the recycling we take there has been wet and they’ve put it in the landfill saying its not recyclable material.”

Charles Schade, a Kanawha City resident who has been a vocal opponent of moving away from use of the bins and spoke a the meeting, didn’t understand why covers couldn’t be used or provided.

“There are covered bins used in most major cities that do recycling. There’s no reason why Charleston can’t do that,” Schade said. ‘I’m utterly gobsmacked that council decided to do this. This is a vote against recycling.”

Talkington said that the city isn’t about to take anyone’s bins away. People are still welcome to use them as long as recyclables are bagged first.

“You can do whatever you want to with your bin,” Talkington said. “There are people who will use them in their home or they may use them as a place to put recycling until they put it in the bag. As long as it’s in a plastic bag, it will be picked up as recycling.”

Schade felt that bags are counterproductive to recycling because the bags themselves aren’t recyclable unlike the bins and wind up in a landfill.

“The complaint here is that wet recyclables are taken to the landfill in Beckley. The easy answer is just keep the recycling dry,” Schade said advocating for the use of covers.

Talkington said at last weeks recycling meeting that providing a sturdy bin with a cover would cost about $35 a household, something Charleston couldn’t afford and a price quote that Schade rejected.

Talkington insisted that most people already use plastic bags. He said there would be a grace period for residents to get used to the change, but eventually loose recyclables would no longer be collected.