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Horry County Solid Waste Authority discusses recycling pilot plan

The Horry County Solid Waste Authority is working on a pilot program for door-to-door recycling pickup, among various other changes its representatives shared with county officials Wednesday.

Horry County Council met with the Solid Waste Authority board to discuss updates on the authority's ongoing projects, goals and the progress in the legal and legislative challenges to the county's trash flow laws.

Authority staff outlined the pilot plans to begin the recycling program in a small section of the county and analyze the number of people who takeadvantage of it and the kinds of waste and how much residents recycle. After that, waste authority executive director Danny Knight said the staff will look at how much and if they would need to charge per household to break even on the program before expanding it to a wider section of the county.

"The national average is between $2.50 and $3 a month for curbside recycling. There's a lot of people that have it and don't use it, but there are a lot of people in Horry County who bring their recycling to the centers," Knight said. "We hope to start the program in a subdivision in about six months and we should know in another six months what the costs would be and what we would have to charge."

Knight said the authority also is planning to purchase a machine to crush glass into sand rather than continuing the expense of driving the glass to another facility in Raleigh, N.C., to be crushed, and a machine to help sort and recycle construction and development waste from the general waste stream before it gets buried in the landfill.

County Administrator and former county attorney John Weaver also gave both the board and the council an update on the progress in the lawsuit against the two entities over the flow control laws enacted in July 2009, which require all trash generated in the county to be dumped at the county landfill or at another landfill designated by the county.

The federal court hearing the case referred a question to the S.C. Supreme Court for jurisdictional help. Weaver said the Supreme Court had not decided whether to hear or rule on the question, which asks whether the county law supersedes the state's waste management laws.

The county code enforcement office has been issuing tickets to haulers caught hauling waste outside of the county limits. Weaver said one of those companies has gotten 18 tickets and is in danger of losing its license to haul waste inside Horry County limits. The company has requested jury trials for each of the tickets, the first of which will be next Wednesday.

Weaver said the county will likely also face a renewed legislative effort to negate the flow control law when the State House goes into its next session. An effort to overturn the rule did not make it to a full vote in both houses during the previous session.

Several council members asked whether the county had engaged in any mediation to try to resolve the flow control conflict and end the litigation. Weaver said neither he nor the rest of the legal counsel had been approached by a representative from Sandlands, the company that filed the suit last year.

"How do we get to a happy medium so that we're partners, not adversaries? Why don't we have one big love fest and make it work?" said Councilman Harold Worley.

"I'm not mad at any of the waste haulers... I certainly don't want to run them out of business, but the SWA wants to stay in business. I think it would be good to let the legal minds sit down and try to mediate through it."

Weaver said since the company filing the suit owns both a hauling company inside Horry County and a landfill just outside Horry County, there was likely no cost incentive that would persuade the group to drop the suit.