The future of SWEEP

Members ponder direction of organization during final meeting
Jul. 12, 2013 @ 05:12 AM

Since 1987, the Rutherford County Solid Waste Environmental Education Panel (SWEEP) has educated residents on the benefit of recycling.

Now, however, the county is taking a new approach to recycling by introducing a co-mingled process. As a result, SWEEP was dissolved, making way for the new Enhanced Recycling Promotion Committee (ERPC) that is tasked with implementing the new single-stream recycling process across the county.

During SWEEPs final meeting Thursday, members discussed the next step for a new SWEEP.

"I didn't realize that SWEEP needed to be dissolved once this new committee was created," said SWEEP member Patricia Keuss. "I was looking forward to being totally successful in other environmental issues."

She discussed the prospect of a new SWEEP, focused on other environmental education issues outside of recycling.

Members also talked about remaining an advisory committee to the Rutherford County Commission — as SWEEP was prior to the change.

"Even if we are not officially endorsed by the county, we can still be a group of volunteers," said SWEEP member David Cameron. "We did it before SWEEP and we weren't endorsed by anybody."

Frank Chyz, chairman of SWEEP and a member of ERPC, said the new committee has a tentative end-date of 2015 under order of the county commission.

"There is no doubt there are a lot of environmental issues out there," Chyz said. "I would certainly be in favor of asking the county commission to keep SWEEP.

"I would like to not see the name SWEEP die. It has a great track record over the years."

Among the recycling initiatives begun under SWEEP was a recycling program throughout Rutherford County Schools. Chyz, who heads that program, said the school contributed nearly 150 tons of recyclable material during the last school year.

Another initiative included adding recycling bins at post offices throughout the county.

"It really shows just how far we have come," Chyz said. "It will be a challenge for the new committee to keep the education factor at the forefront."

Now, however, SWEEP members want to try to keep environmental education at the forefront and there is the prospect of seeking support from the county to maintain that role.

"The credibility would be great especially in getting grants and other funding," Cameron said.

At the end of the meeting, Chyz presented Cameron with a plaque commemorating his 26 years with SWEEP.

"It has been a good experience," Cameron said.