Embrace recyclables’ burning ban

Blair County’s solid waste plan will disappoint the members of a solid waste advisory committee that asked for a ban on the burning of recyclable materials.

While commissioners backed away from enacting a countywide ban for lack of enforcement measures, they recently agreed that the plan should include a strong recommendation in favor, thereby leaving municipal leaders to decide if they want to ban the burning of recyclable materials.

Blair County’s most populated communities – Altoona, Logan Township, Hollidaysburg and Tyrone – already have ordinances outlawing the burning of recyclables.

But other municipalities do not, so rather than putting the county’s plan and its strong recommendation on a shelf to gather dust, we’d urge their municipal leaders to discuss enacting such a ban, then adopt an ordinance and enforce it.

For too many years, our county’s rural communities and their residents have put up with unsightly illegal dumps with materials that won’t burn, such as tin cans, aluminum cans, newspapers, magazines and glass.

But all of those materials – along with a wide variety of plastic containers which release hazardous chemicals when burned – can now be recycled, either by a local trash hauler or at a drop-off location.

While it takes a little effort to separate recyclable materials from trash, the routine practice pays dividends. Not only does it cut the amount of material being shoveled into landfills, it also creates jobs for those involved in making new products from items that would otherwise be discarded. And, it typically leads to a personal satisfaction achieved by caring for one’s environment.

Nevertheless, we suspect some residents will object to local governments enacting such a ban.

If and when that occurs, we recommend local leaders address those residents by pointing to the recycling options.

And if such options are lacking, then those leaders and their residents in favor of a ban should find ways to make recycling easier in their communities.

A commitment to embrace the county’s strong recommendation will lead to a clearer environment in Blair County.