Davis County waste officials are ready to begin a long-term recycling plan they hope will significantly reduce the amount of waste entering the landfill.

The first step in the three-phase plan will be implemented within the next few weeks with the placement of recycling bins in "strategic" locations throughout the Davis County Solid Waste Management District, which includes Morgan County and Davis County except for Bountiful.The bins will provide environmentally conscious citizens a place to dispose of glass and aluminum, said LeGrand Bitter, district director. If the district can find a profitable market for plastics and newspapers, bins for those items will also be provided.

In the meantime, however, plastics and newspapers "don't pose the same problems for us as they do for other landfills," Bitter said, because the district can burn them in its "energy recovery facility," which burns garbage to generate steam. The steam is then sold to Hill Air Force Base. The facility and the north Davis landfill are located just east of the base.

"Plastics and newspapers are energy producers so we have an alternative if the recycling markets aren't profitable."

The second phase of the district's plan involves voluntary curbside recycling, which may not be implemented for another year. Residents would be invited to sort out glass and aluminum, which would be picked up at the curb by a private waste collector, who would then sell the materials for profit.

But again, Bitter said, newspapers and plastics would be collected only if they are profitable.

"This Iraq problem may speed things up inasmuch as plastics are petroleum-based."

The district, Bitter said, may also encourage recycling newspaper and plastics to conserve the primary natural resources that went into their production, namely wood and oil.

Bitter said the problem of used oil and antifreeze has not been solved yet. "But hopefully in the next six months, we'll have a place where people can bring those."

The third phase of the plan would be a "materials recovery facility," which would be built at the landfill and would separate recyclable materials from garbage. Non-recyclable material that is combustible would be separated and shredded to be used in the energy recovery facility.

"Once we are at that point, we will have met all our goals - no recyclables or combustibles would be entering the landfill."

Bitter estimates that only 5 percent of the waste generated by the district's customers would be placed in the landfill.

Currently, about 151,000 tons of garbage are collected annually in the district.

With all the recycling plans in place, the north Davis landfill could last for more than 100 years, Bitter estimated.