With York County’s help, the Tree City is making it easier to go green again

Pending approval by York County Council, an agreement will restore recycling services to Tega Cay by March 11.

TEGA CAY — For a city that prides itself on a commitment to the environment, having a disruption to its recycling program the past few months hasn’t been easy. As spring nears, however, a return to normalcy — mostly — is also about to bloom.

City Council recently approved an agreement with York County that will allow residents to place most of their recyclables curbside for pickup. Contractor Signature Waste, which used to provide full recycling service to the city before scaling back to mixed paper due to a shift in the market, will soon resume taking residents’ plastics and other materials. It will transport materials to a county facility for processing.

Officials want to emphasize that Tega Cay residents can place mixed paper into their recycling containers for pickup, but need to take shredded paper to a county site or other facility for recycling.

York County Council is expected to vote on the arrangement at its March 4 meeting. A joint press conference is expected to be held to announce the arrangement and provide more details by next week — possibly as early as March 5 if County Council approves it.

“Beginning on March 11, provided the county also adopts this agreement on March 4, you’ll be able to start putting certain plastics and aluminum and steel cans back in your roll carts,” Mayor David O’Neal said at a Feb. 19 council meeting.

Several months before Signature told the city it will no longer accept plastics, tin or steel, it had already stopped taking glass. Glass won’t be accepted as part of the pending agreement with the county, but the city will set up a sorting bin for glass near the public works building and the lower tennis courts. Residents also can take glass — and anything else they put in their roll carts over to the county center on S.C. 160 West near Baxter Village for collection.

Residents will again be able to put plastics, such as water bottles and other containers, tin beverage cans and steel cans and more curbside. The county’s facilities collect even more recyclable materials.

O’Neal credited Tega Cay Councilwoman Heather Overman and county staff for getting the details worked out as quickly as they did.

“Heather, working with city staff, has come up with this in a remarkable amount of time. I would have thought we’d be doing this in June, but we’re doing it in March and that’s quite an accomplishment,” O’Neal said.

“Through engagement in the community and listening to people’s concerns, we understand the importance of having a convenient and practical recycling program,” Overman told The MillTown News.

“While we are unable to control factors related to the processing of recyclable materials, eliminating our recycling program completely was not an option,” she said.

“We had to work quickly to find a solution that worked for everyone. partnering with the county is an ideal solution. This partnership is a great example of how intergovernmental relationships can work to benefit everyone. I am hopeful the county will pass this at their meeting on March 4th so that we can move forward and be able to offer Tega Cay residents a recycling program that meets their needs.”

Overman praised city staff, “specifically (City Manager) Charlie Funderburk, Assistant City Manager Katie Poulsen and of course (city publicist) Lacey Armstrong,” she said at the Feb. 19 meeting.

“I pushed and I pushed and pushed and I’m really glad we found a solution that works for everybody,” Overman said.

O’Neal wanted to remind residents who are eager to recycle that it’s counter productive if they don’t follow the rules.

“I would be remiss if I didn’t talk about contamination,” he said. “Contamination means you’re putting something in that recycling bin other than can be recycled. This is not another way to have your trash hauled away.”

County recycling officials have stressed that items collected for recycling should be free of food remnants and other debris that can impede processing.

More changes, options

Tega Cay’s City Council also voted to suspend the hauling fee residents pay to have appliances such as refrigerators and washing machines carted away. Instead, the city will allow the Fort Mill High School Band Booster Club to take the items so they can sold for scrap to help pay for the band’s expenses.

Residents also were reminded at last week’s meeting that they can bring their aluminum cans to the fire house where they are collected to raise money for a pediatric burn unit.