Garbage is a stinky subject to talk about.

But when it comes to finding a place for Racine County residents to bring their trash, that issue cannot be put off any longer.

The Kestrel Hawk Landfill in Racine is starting to near the end of its life. It’s estimated to have five years left.

In anticipation of the closure, concerned citizens have formed the Greater Racine Zero Waste Initiative, an effort to stave off the landfill’s closure, along with all the costs and difficulties it will bring.

Michael Keleman, InSinkErator’s manager of environmental engineering and marketing and co-facilitator for the initiative, said the Zero Waste Initiative began about two years ago, with Racine City Administrator Jim Palenick looking at the landfill’s limited remaining capacity.

About a year ago, Palenick recognized that the effort needed to include Caledonia, Mount Pleasant and Sturtevant, Keleman said. After welcoming participation from those communities, Zero Waste meets about once a month.

“It’s kind of a collaboration between Visioning Greater Racine and Greening Greater Racine,” said Zero Waste’s other co-facilitator, David Rhoads, a retired college religion/New Testament instructor.

News of that collaboration is great to hear. It’s what is needed to devise a solution in the near future as to where local trash will go.

It could be carted outside of the county. But if that is an option, it would add significant cost to all municipalities.

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Granted, the landfill is lasting longer than earlier anticipated: Back in 1998, it was estimated that the landfill would be filled in eight to 10 years.

It has surpassed that estimate by more than 10 years; hopefully, along with local initiatives, it will again forestall its five-year death sentence.

But these conservation efforts, while admirable and worthy, are only delaying the inevitable. Officials are right to be getting serious about a new location.

In a 1998 Journal Times report, Rick Jones, then the Racine public works director, was quoted as saying that the search needs to begin now because it can take up to eight years to get the necessary approvals to open a new landfill.

He said then that it can take as little as three years to get the proper approval. But much more when you add in opposition.

Think “not in my backyard” on steroids.

Those years have come and gone and there is still no solution.

This cannot be put off. At some point, you have to get up and take out the trash. And in this case, figure out a place to put that trash.

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