Flathead County says its recycling program could see some changes in the future. We spoke to county officials who told us the county lost $50,000 on the recycling program last year and they can't afford to lose that much again.
Right now, each taxpayer spends about $80 on the solid waste district, which includes maintenance of the recycling program.
“I think one thing the public needs to understand is it's a complicated issue," said Mayre Flowers, of Citizens for a Better Flathead. Her organization is pushing to keep the program and in her opinion, the options available to save the program need more research and discussion.
"Stay with the program right now,” Flowers said. “Continue it, recognize that costs are increasing right now, and spend the next year really doing some study group, some workshops looking at other ways we can lower this cost and keep a viable recycling program in the Flathead."
Flowers sees plenty of interest in keeping the program up and running, and Solid Waste Operations Manager Jim Chilton agrees.
"A lot of people are using the recycle bins; I mean they're full all the time," Chilton said.
But one option under discussion would cut recycling bins by more than half.
"The hardcore recyclers will continue to recycle no matter what."
It's the average recycler that Chilton is worried about -- the person who may throw away recyclables, putting more trash in the landfill.
"I think folks maybe will choose not to recycle because it's too much of an inconvenience. They're going to spend too much in gas to drive too far to get rid of their small amount of recyclables every week."
One thing is clear, the county may be losing money on the program, but those closest to it don't want to lose it, until alternatives have been exhausted.
Chilton also told us that drastic changes aren't going to be made overnight. He expects the board to decide the direction the program will be heading in, within the next few weeks.