County recycling program grows in popularity
Despite some early confusion, Marion County’s new recycling program has rapidly grown in participation since it was implemented mid-July, Transfer Station Director Rollin Schmidt said.
At that time, the county ceased a weekend pickup route with a trailer in favor of having 8-cubic-yard recycling bins in each of the towns, which are regularly emptied by Waste Connections Inc.
The recycling bins offer a couple of advantages over the trailer route, both of which have increased participation. The first advantage is accessibility. Each town can open its recycling station as often as it chooses, rather than having a trailer in town for less than an hour once a month.
The other main advantage is that participants don’t have to sort their recyclables. All of the goods can go into the same bin. While some mistakes have been made with people putting in things that don’t belong — primarily plastic shopping bags and a some Styrofoam — it reduces the workload for people recycling.
Goessel was routinely the busiest stop for the recycling trailer, often filling the trailer up so that the driver had to fill the bed of the truck pulling it at later stops on the route, and the town’s residents haven’t slowed down at all with the new program.
“Recycling at Goessel is going very well, well enough that we never have enough room,” City Clerk Anita Goertzen said Thursday.
Because of the high volume of recycling, Waste Connections added a second recycling bin in Goessel, and they were still filling up every week. A problem arose when Waste Connections removed one of the bins, but Schmidt said the company planned to rectify the mistake, although the bin hadn’t been replaced yet on Monday.
Goertzen estimated that as much as half of the recyclers in Goessel live out of town and come to town to recycle in the lot south of the city building. Part of that, she said, is because Waste Connections ended its rural recycling pickup route, which came as a surprise to the county.
Goessel’s recycling site is open all the time, and from 6 to 8 p.m. on Thursdays the city provides assistance for elderly people who may struggle to get their recyclables out of their vehicles.
Like Goessel, Florence keeps its recycling center open all the time, City Supervisor Phil Baldwin said.
“We’ve been having pretty good results,” Baldwin said. “They’ve been having to empty it every week.”
He said recyclers have done an excellent job of keeping out things that don’t belong. Baldwin has been pleased with the program and hopes it will continue.
“I hope we have enough to meet our quota to keep it here,” he said.
Baldwin was referring to the six-month trial the county is using for the program. Waste Connections is charging $125 per bin per month. With sending trash to Butler County Landfill costing about $40 per ton, the recycling sites need to average about three tons per month to break even.
In planning the program, Marion County Commission discussed the possibility of discontinuing the program or leaving the funding up to cities if they wish to continue after six months if it doesn’t break even.
Although the company doesn’t weigh the recyclables from the county because it is part of a larger route, Schmidt said Don Rogers of Waste Connections estimated that recycling in the county has nearly doubled in the time the program has been in place.
“I’m excited there’s that much stuff coming in,” Schmidt said.