District Manager making sure Villagers are on top of recycling changes


Richard Baier

By now you’ve probably heard that big changes are coming in the world of recycling and trash collection.

Those aren’t necessarily going to happen tomorrow. But with China limiting the amounts of recyclables it accepts from the United States and costs associated with sorting those items continuing to soar, it’s just a matter of time before those things you typically put in your recycling bag will change – drastically, we’d guess.

Here in The Villages, you can thank District Manager Richard Baier for being on top of this topic and beginning the education process early on. Unlike some communities that will no doubt be caught with piles of recyclables that will no longer be accepted, Baier is doing what he does best – staying on top of important issues and making sure the residents he serves are well educated about things at the local government level that affect their lives.

Along those lines, Baier put together a meeting this past Thursday that saw a big crowd come out to hear about the future of trash pickup and recycling in The Villages. Those who attended the extremely educational North Sumter County Utility Dependent District (NSCUDD) meeting at Laurel Manor Recreation Center were privy to an excellent comprehensive presentation by John Wood, global practice director at Jacobs, the waste hauler in The Villages.

You can see Wood’s entire presentation, which focused primarily on Community Development Districts 1 through 11, at this link: Villages Solid Waste 06202019.

In case you aren’t aware of it, NSCUDD is the water, wastewater and reclaimed water service provider to properties in The Villages that are south of County Road 466 and north of County Road 466A. Additionally, NSCUDD is the provider of the solid waste sanitation services for Marion and Sumter County, and the Fruitland Park portion of The Villages.

Here’s something else you might find interesting – we certainly did – there are 100 tons of garbage per collection day (twice a week) collected in The Villages. There is another 125 tons per collection day of yard waste in the community. And there are 55 tons of recyclables per collection day.

Along those same lines, the rate of recycling in Florida’s Friendliest Hometown is 37.1 percent – higher than the national average of 34.7 percent. And in the Sunshine State overall, it’s a whopping 54 percent. So you can see that the changes coming down the road are going to affect a lot of people and could easily play on the emotions of those who see their recycling efforts as highly important in the fight to protect our environment.

We’re guessing you have a few questions about this entire process, so we’ll try to answer a couple of obvious ones right up front. For instance, will the items that go in your recycling bag eventually change? Count on it. Do we know what will and won’t be allowed? Not yet, though if trends across the country continue the way they are today, you can pretty much count on newspapers becoming a huge no-no.

And that means you’ll have to toss those pulp products in with your regular trash and the days of those newspaper companies patting themselves on the back for printing on recycled paper will quietly go away.

Another question we bet you’re asking is where do recyclables collected in The Villages go? The answer is a Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) where those items are sorted and processed. But herein lies the other problem with recyclables, as Wood pointed out, the process to sort them is “very expensive and labor intensive.”

Woods said that technology could come into play at the MRFs with robots sorting at a much faster pace than humans. But with aging MRF facilities, it’s tough to get ahead of the game, which Woods said means one thing – “recycling is more expensive than disposal.”

For those who might wonder about their trash, it’s currently being taken to a landfill in Georgia, where NSCUDD pays a tipping fee of $28.35 per ton. But that agreement is set to expire “soon,” which means even more changes are likely to come along in the world of trash – and like with recyclables, they will affect each of you in some way or another.

So, you ask, what does the future hold? Wood said it’s important for The Villages to begin to identify a path forward and then set a budget. And Baier rightly pointed out that the presentation was just a “first step” in developing a solid long-range plan working alongside NSCUDD and Sumter County.

As we said earlier, we commend Baier for being on top of this issue long before many of his counterparts in government will even begin to think about it. Baier has a history of being open and transparent when it comes to issues facing Villagers. And you should each consider yourself fortunate to be in the conversation early on about future plans for recycling and trash in The Villages.

Like Baier, we are big believers in educating the public about things that are happening in their community. Wiith Baier at the helm of our District Government, we can all feel good knowing that someone is watching out for us and will do his best to make sure we stay informed about important issues that will affect us in many different ways.

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