Sevier County commissioners have decided to forgo a county-operated recycling program in favor of private enterprise as recycling gains a strong toehold in south-central Utah.

The Fishlake National Forest and the Richfield District of the Bureau of Land Management began recycling paper and then extended it to include used oil removed from their own equipment and automobiles owned by employees. And an oil recycling pilot program is proving successful with collection points for the public in Millard, Juab and Sanpete counties.Now a task force is being organized in Sevier County to explore the feasibility of an overall recycling program following a study that was completed by an appointed committee. The committee was organized last spring but is now being abandoned in favor of a task force, said Linda Jackson, chairwoman, who was also instrumental in organizing paper recycling in the federal agencies.

Jackson said the county commission has asked for two nominees to be appointed from each of the communities of Richfield, Monroe and Salina. One from each will then be selected to serve on the task force with two at-large members.

"The task force will study to see if there is enough support and if a recycling program will work successfully in Sevier County," Jackson said. The possibility of obtaining grant money to launch a recycling venture will also be explored.

Even with private enterprise involved, local government financing would still be needed. "What the recycling companies are saying is `we will do this if you will do that,' " Jackson said. "But it will require up-front money."

Private companies have shown interest in establishing the program and five responded to inquiries from the committee.

Jackson said one alternative would be for a local sanitation company to pick up the material under a contract with a recycling company.

"What we have seen in two other areas, recycling by private companies worked best," Jackson added. "The program is tremendously expensive, and the companies are set up to absorb much of the initial costs that otherwise would have to be met by the county."

Meanwhile, the BLM Richfield District office obtained a permit from the State Department of Environmental Quality designating the agency as a collection point for oil recycling.

"We haven't refused to accept used oil from others, but it is primarily established for recycling of our own oil," said Ed Bush, BLM district environmental specialist.

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"Sometimes we changed oil on our equipment out in the field, but the law requires it to be taken to an aggregation (collection) point. It was about 60 miles to the closest point, so we collect it in 55-gallon drums."

The oil recycling program was launched May 28 in Millard, Juab and Sanpete counties. It was established as a pilot program after county commissioners and officials of the Ash Grove Cement Co. received funding from the Environmental Protection Agency.

The Utah Division of Solid and Hazardous Waste established a steering committee and collection stations as part of the pilot program. Oil collection drums were placed at 15 strategic locations, posters displayed in windows, and brochures distributed that informed residents about the importance of properly disposing of used oil.

At the time the program was launched in the three counties, state coordinator Sandy Hunt said it was designed for people who change oil in their own automobiles and to inform them that, without proper disposal, underground water supplies could be endangered and sewer systems become plugged.

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