“We’ve tried to make it as simple as possible,” Schmidt said. “Some bins are used more than others.”
At the county transfer station, plastics are divided in No. 1 clear, No. 2 milk jugs and No. 2 colored, Schmidt said. Then the recycled plastics are bound into bales.
Schmidt recommends squeezing the air out of used bottles before screwing on the lids because more can bottles can be bound in the bails.
“You can’t pop (the bottles with lids), even with heavy equipment,” Schmidt said. “They’re as strong as all get out.”
Corrugated cardboard is also bound in bales, he said, while cardboard such as cereal boxes goes in the paper bin.
Schmidt said the county center collects about a semi-trailer load of recycled materials every other month and hauls it to Sonoco Recycling, out of Hutchinson
“I would like to see the city of Marion and city of Hillsboro provide single-stream, curbside service,” he said.
Peabody has been doing that for some time, he added.
“It’s working well,” Schmidt said.
The status of recycling for Marion County is tenuous. At county commission meetings, he said, discussions about the recycling program can become extended.
“It’s a money loser (for the county),” he said.
Nonetheless, Schmidt said he believes providing recycling as a service is vital, as are others that are non-revenue producing for the county.
The market value of recycled materials varies.
For example, he said, recycled paper products can be divided into more than 20 categories.
The county has chosen to not separate its paper into different categories.
“It’s not worth it,” he said.
In fact, phone books, paperback and hardcover books can be dropped off at the Marion center, but are not permitted at the Hillsboro dropsite.
What’s allowed in bins at Hillsboro’s recycling site, established in 1998, is determined by the McPherson Area Solid Waste Utility Transfer Station, which services Hillsboro’s center.
“Technically we’ve no slot for phone books or cereal boxes,” said Andrew Sensenig, who coordinates volunteers for Hillsboro’s recycling site.
It’s all about the purity of materials required at the next level of the recycling process, Sensenig said.
Different circumstances could also affect the type of materials recycled, he added.
Sensenig has served in the position for about a year and a half through the mission committee of First Mennonite in Hillsboro.
About 20 volunteers participate at the Hillsboro site.
“I’ve been pretty happy with the volunteers,” he said, especially groups such as Lions and Kiwanis clubs that work on particular weeks.
One slot, he said, still needs regular volunteers—the third Thursday of each month.
Sensenig, who teaches biology at Tabor College, sees two primary reasons for recycling: to reduce the use of landfills and conserve natural resource.
“I’m committed to recycle as much as I can of my personal waste,” said Sensenig, who has been interested in environmental sustainability since age 10.
Consequently, he shops locally and at the area farmers markets at least once a month, he said, plus raises vegetables in his yard.
“Why buy canned tomatoes from halfway across the country?” he asked.
Sensenig said he tries to buy what produce is in season.
“And definitely not pre-packaged,” he added.
Recycling involves choices and is only part of being environmentally responsible.
Sensenig, who recently bought a used car, said in a sense buying an older car, as long as it’s efficient, is a good way to recycle.