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The following questions arose from two recent universal recycling grant and low-interest loan workshops.
Q. What is the state’s position on recycling?
A. The state’s position on recycling, as spelled out in the new Universal Recycling Law, is to maximize the diversion of recyclables from disposal with specified diversion goals by specified dates. The Universal Recycling Grant and Low Interest Loan Program is designed to assist with the capital startup costs of implementing the programs necessary to achieve the identified diversion goals. By doing so the state will conserve resources and energy, extend the life of the landfills, create jobs, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and promote sustainability.
Q. What is meant by the statement “Providers of recycling services must supply customers with recycling"?
A. By September 15, 2011, anyone providing solid waste collection services (regardless if the service is provided by a public or private entity) must offer every single-family customer as well as customers with on-premise sales of bottled beverages such as restaurants and bars, with single-stream recycling collection service at least every other week. The service must include delivery of a storage container spacious enough to encourage recycling while discouraging disposal.
Q. Is there a maximum amount of funds an applicant for the grants or low-interest loans can request?
A. No. However; there is a limit to the total amount of grant money that can be awarded and distributed amongst grant recipients. Thus grant applicants are asked to exercise frugality in their requests. Also, on the issue of funds management, please note that this is a reimbursement program. The intent is that a one-time reimbursement request will be submitted by the grantee and a one-time reimbursement will be issued by DNREC. Advances for grant money will be considered on a case-by-case basis. lf you receive an advance award and you have not implemented your program or spent the money by the end of the grant period, you will be required to return any unused awarded money.
Q. Can I request money for yard waste ban-related activities?
A. Although you are not precluded from applying for funds for yard waste activities, the priority for this grant offering is the implementation of single-stream recycling for single-family households and businesses with on-premise sales. Even if Senate Bill 234 had not passed, the yard waste ban would still be in effect via landfill permit condition. Though there is not a grant program associated with it, yard waste grant requests may be considered following an evaluation of the demand for grant funds.
Q. What happens if I do not reach the goals stated in the new recycling law?
A. Diversion goals specified in the new law are statewide goals. There is no penalty for any public or private waste hauler not achieving the specified goals within a defined geographical boundary. If it is determined in 2015 that Delaware is collectively falling short of the stated goals, then recommendations will be made by DNREC and the Recycling Public Advisory Council as to what actions may be needed to achieve those goals. In the interim, it is in the interest of all recycling stakeholders to maximize diversion of recyclables from disposal not only for the beneficial reasons already stated, but also to avoid the need for additional requirements and intervention to ensure that the goals are met. While the stated goals have been characterized as aggressive, they are achievable.
Q. Where is the grant money coming from?
A. The grant and low interest loan program is being funded by the new 4-cent recycling fee that replaced the 5-cent bottle deposit on December 1, 2010 for each qualifying beverage container sold in Delaware. (The recycling fee is paid by the beverage retailer.) This temporary fee is expected to generate up to $22 million in revenue needed to fund the grant program, but collection efforts are just beginning. The fee is set to expire on December 1, 2014 or when $22 million dollars is raised, whichever occurs first.
Q. What recyclables are included?
A. To satisfy the single-stream recycling service requirement, all of the same recyclables are included as before, including numbers 1 and 2 plastic containers, fiberboard, glass, newspapers, office and mixed paper, cardboard, steel/tin and aluminum cans. All of these recyclables can be commingled by the customer and stored in the same container. (DNREC's website outlines a more complete list of acceptable recyclables.)
Q. What if a municipality cannot use a truck more than 10-20 percent of the time but needs to purchase a vehicle to comply with the implementation of Universal Recycling?
A. The grant requests will be looked at for efficiency in deciding to whom grant funds are awarded, and partial awards under these circumstances are a distinct possibility. Partnering with surrounding communities and/or public-private partnerships should be considered. Although not covered by the grant program, DNREC suggests exploring sub-contracting for services where equipment usage would be very low. Grant funding is limited to the amount of start-up costs based on efficient implementation of statewide curbside recycling. There is not enough grant money available to cover inflated requests.
Q. Can DNREC provide an estimate on the average amount of recyclables diverted from Delaware households?
A. Yes. Based on the experience of other recycling programs in Delaware and elsewhere, it can be estimated that on average between 550 and 750 pounds per participating household per year of recyclables will be diverted from disposal. Socioeconomic factors influence the lower and upper end of this range. Therefore community/customer demographics may be used to estimate the range of recyclables that can be diverted.
Regarding participation levels and diversion rates, DNREC cannot stress enough how important customer education is to the successful implementation of the recycling program.
Q. Is there a specific match requirement?
A. No. DNREC is not requiring a match. However, it is possible to receive a few extra points by providing a match. Since this grant program is designed primarily to defray the capital startup costs of implementing Universal Recycling, any match should primarily be capital-cost-related as well. Costs for labor will not be considered as match for the simple reason that everyone will have labor costs. Nor will the value of carts donated by the Delaware Solid Waste Authority, as their value has already been calculated into the amount of funding needed for the grant program and there is no way to assign parity based on the carts' distribution.
Finally, it also cannot be understated that match is not nearly as important or as valuable as the other scoring criteria. To focus on supplying a match at the expense of thoroughly addressing the other scoring criteria would diminish an application's potential overall score and therefore is not advised. Please do not put too much emphasis on the match requirement; overall, it isn’t as important when compared to all other components of the application.
Q. Can additional pages be attached to the application if I want to provide more information than what will fit in the application?
A. Yes. In the event that the space provided on the application is insufficient for the information you wish to submit, you may attach up to one additional page with your application.
Q. Are there any reasons that DNREC would consider as acceptable a rate increase from grant recipients?
The effective implementation of Universal Recycling will result in a reduction of waste going to the landfill, therefore, waste haulers will notice a reduction in tipping fees paid. This savings should be used to offset any rate increases brought on by an increased tipping fee or rise in fuel costs. There are, however, two conditions which have been identified by both the public and private sector where a grant recipient may submit justification for consideration of a rate increase between the time the grant application is made and the March 15, 2013 freeze on waste service rate increases. They are:
1. An increase in the DSWA tipping fees and,
2. An increase in fuel costs.
As has been explained since the introduction of Senate Bill 234, the Universal Recycling Law aims to maximize the diversion of recyclables while minimizing the cost of implementing the required recycling programs. As such, it is DNREC’s position that a waste collection service rate increase due to either a rise in the DSWA tipping fee or fuel costs should only be a direct pass-through to the customer.
For example: If the average household generates 1.25 tons of waste per year (and this number should decrease with the implementation of single-family, single stream recycling) and DSWA’s tip fee increase by $2, then the additional average cost of disposal per household per year is $2.50 per year or 63 cents per quarter (or 21 cents per month). Therefore the waste service rates should not increase more than this amount. This requirement will be a condition of the contract between DNREC and the Universal Recycling and Low Interest Loan grant recipient.
Q. How can I receive DNREC press releases?
A. On the DNREC homepage (www.dnrec.delaware.gov) go to left-hand column of the page and under the "Services" heading, click on “Email List Subscription. "DNREC Press Releases" is the first option at the top of the page, and requires that you send an email to subscribe.