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EAP encourages residents to support Pay As You Throw

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By Kellie Parkin

Cedar Key’s green movement all started with a citizen on a golf cart, Commissioner Heath Davis said at the Alternative Ways of Managing Solid Waste seminar held in October. “He rode up to me and said, ‘Let’s make this whole island green,’ ”Davis said, who was Mayor at the time. “I told him I’m a fisherman – and then someone thought I could do banking. But I don’t really know what (green) means, so let’s make a citizens’ group. “And they are responsible for everything that’s happened to this point,” he said. Davis created the Cedar Key Energy Advisory Panel earlier this year and appointed Tom Deverin, the man on the golf cart, and Connie Nelson to rally the volunteers. The citizens’ movement has been involved in many projects, including the communitywide recycling effort, bringing solar power to the community center, encouraging citizens to take advantage of the federal Weatherization program, and assisting businesses with Florida DEP’s Green Lodging Program. Volunteers also continue to seek the broadest audience possible by providing the “Conservation Corner” which can be found in the print edition of the Cedar Key Beacon as well as online. The column features practical, educational information and ideas about recycling, conserving and sustainable living. The EAP’s latest proposal strives to increase the amount of recycling on the island by implementing a “Pay As You Throw” garbage collection system. With Pay As You Throw, or PAYT, “The more trash you produce, the more you pay,” Deverin explained. “It works just like a utility bill.” Since approximately 75 percent of household garbage is recyclable, it makes sense to require residents to pay as they throw trash away when it could otherwise be disposed of for free at a recycling trailer, Deverin said. “We’ve almost doubled recycling, but Cedar Key’s capture rate is currently at 7 percent. There is a lot of room for improvement.” The program would most likely cost the city much less than it currently spends on waste removal, Deverin said. Less trash would result in fewer collection days, he said. The EAP also recommends curbside recycling along with PAYT, to allow for easier disposal of recyclables. More than 7,000 communities across the country participate in PAYT. Alachua County implemented the program in the 1990s. EAP volunteers will attend the City Commission meeting Tuesday, Dec. 15 to encourage city leaders to implement PAYT this spring when the waste collection contract comes up for renewal. “The City of Cedar Key has always been a leader,” Deverin said. He hopes residents will turn out for the meeting to support PAYT. “Let’s show the commission that people are willing to try something new. If nobody shows up, they’ll keep doing it the same way it’s always been.