SANATOGA PA – What’s the difference between garbage, and unwanted recyclables like bottles, cans and newspapers?
Money, of course.
Lower Pottsgrove Township must pay to get rid of its property owners’ trash. It gets paid by the ton, however, for all the stuff they recycle. Not surprisingly, then, the Board of Commissioners wants to lock in as much revenue as it can from reusable materials. Put extra emphasis on the word “lock.”
Commissioners have proposed a law that would put those convicted of repeatedly stealing recycling items in jail for up to 90 days, or force them to pay up to a $1,000 fine.
A township ordinance already specifies that taking recycling materials from Lower Pottsgrove’s large plastic recycling boxes constitutes a theft of its property. The police department is charged with enforcing the law; commissioners agree there are better ways to spend patrol officers’ time. So their proposal would shift enforcement to the zoning and codes enforcement officer, who would pursue and investigate recycling thefts.
It’s a sufficiently big problem, township Manager Rodney Hawthorne reports. Given the rising value of some recycling items, particularly metals, more than a few curbside thieves have been running away with the boxes’ contents, he said.
Under the proposal, convicted violators would receive only a written warning for their first offense. For subsequent violations, offenders would be slapped with maximum punishments of the jail term or fine. That gives Keith Place, the current codes officer, sharp teeth to tackle the thefts.
What the law won’t do, commissioners quickly pointed out, is discipline or discourage scavengers.
Those are the people often seen cruising township roads on weekends, looking for an old desk, a chest of drawers, or other reusable pieces that property owners put out to be picked up by someone else at no charge. That’s still allowed.
“I even rely on the scavengers to get rid of things I don’t want any more,” board Vice President Bruce Foltz admitted during a Nov. 1 meeting.
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