Marking the end and … hopefully … the beginning
Today will mark the end of an era in Rutherford County.
Today at noon, the Rutherford County Solid Waste Environmental Education Panel (SWEEP) will hold its last meeting as an organization.
SWEEP has been part of the county structure, helping with teaching residents and implementing strategies for county-wide recycling since 1987.
While today will be primarily a reception and a chance for the group to recognize the accomplishments and service made to solid waste reduction in the county, we hope it signals a beginning of something new.
In April, the Rutherford County Commission voted to start a new Enhanced Recycling Promotion Committee (ERPC) to assist with educating residents on the county’s new co-mingled recycling program.
At the time of the formation of the ERPC, SWEEP members were puzzled and asked why the county would, what members called “reinvent the wheel.”
Questions regarding the change have been justified.
SWEEP members have worked tirelessly to implement recycling convenience centers, swap shops and other recycling initiatives throughout the county. Not the least of which is implementing a strong recycling program throughout Rutherford County schools.
But, the mission has changed.
Now, the county is aggressively pushing for single-stream or, co-mingled recycling meaning residents no longer have to separate their recycling into paper, plastic and metal.
Additionally, the county is working with individual municipalities to make the effort truly county-wide.
The effort deserves praise.
However, even though the mission has changed in the county, the past efforts by SWEEP also deserve recognition.
Because of the change, the new ERPC will only consist of residents that live in unincorporated areas of the county. Each municipality will have representation on the committee but that will be chosen by the municipality. The move leaves a majority of SWEEP members out of the new ERPC.
The efforts of the last 26 years cannot be simply left out in the cold.
Members of SWEEP deserve proper recognition from fellow members as well as the county and we hope that happens today.
Additionally, we believe the new ERPC should look to those SWEEP members not involved in the new committee for additional guidance and input on recycling issues and strategies.
We cannot forget about the past and how we got to the point we are with solid recycling across the county as we move to the future.
By Matthew Clark, for the Editorial Board.
The Daily Courier Editorial Board consists of community members Jerry Brewer, Kyle Bingham, Tom Padgett, Dr. Shermaine Surratt and Cliff Strassenburg as well as Editor Matthew Clark.