Marion City Administrator Roger Holter discussed whether recycling was actually dropping off after information suggesting it was during the Aug. 14 council meeting.
Bud Druse, director of the Marion County recycling program, first presented the information to the county commissioners earlier that day, but later spoke to Holter.
“A resident reported that the city’s weight is down a lot,” Druse told the commission. “And this person asked me to talk to the council.”
Other people, he said, are also coming to him and wanting to know if there’s anything the county can do to help raise the recycling numbers.
Randy Dallke, commission chairman, said it’s the city’s program, and something they are doing.
Commissioner Kent Becker said he doesn’t know what the county can do about the city’s recycling program.
Druse said he could provide recycle numbers to the city.
“I can make sure they have these numbers before their (Aug. 14) meeting,” he said. “And I can be there for questions.”
Commissioner Dianne Novak added her opinion.
“I think as long as it’s on an informational basis—that’s fine. But you are not the recycling sheriff,” she said.
Dallke said he appreciates even one citizen letting them know information about certain topics, but he also doesn’t want to “react” to everything one person says.
“I think the city has a policy about recycling, and we shouldn’t be dictating to them,” he said. “We appreciate them do it.”
Although Druse said he appreciates the city and its recycling efforts, he would like them to keep it up.
“It helps (the county) and every little bit we get into recycling is that much less to get rid of being that we are getting money for recycling,” he said. “I just didn’t want to go behind you.”
County counselor Susan Robson asked Druse if he had spoken with Holter, and if he hadn’t, she suggested he do that as a courtesy.
City recycling up
Holter said he reviewed the information presented by Druse for 2016 and through July of this year.
Holter said in 2016 the county didn’t have a recycle bin in the city of Marion for people to recycle whenever they wanted to.
“All we had was curbside pickup for recycling, and this year it appears to be down,” he said. “But when factoring in the bin, the city of Marion is up for the year by over 12 tons.”
The amount of trash not taken to Emporia’s landfill was 3.96 tons, he said.
All the trash collected was coming out of Marion, Holter added, which is important and needs to be explored further.
“I think this is telling us that recycling has to be convenient for people,” he said.
The one size for one type of program doesn’t fit everybody.
Holter said the city is getting more tonnage now that there is a bin to drop recyclables whenever someone prefers instead of curbside pickup, which requires the discipline to get it out on a weekly basis.
Holter clarified it isn’t the city who makes money off recycling, it’s the county receiving money.
Holter said that for every ton of trash that Marion County takes to the El Dorado landfill, it pays $36 per ton of trash dumped.
Conversely, for every ton of recycling that is taken to the single-stream recycle facility in Hutchinson, the county receives an average of $64.
“So for every ton of diverted refuge, it’s a $100 net gain to the county,” Holter said. “The cost of $36 turning into a profit of $6, which is a $100 swing.”
The county cleared over $12,000, according to Druse, even when factoring in hauling, payroll and other expenses to get the recycling to Hutchinson.
“Recycling can make money for the county,” Holter said.
“My contention with the county is that if there were bins in more convenient places—on the hill somewhere near Carlson’s (Grocery) or at the parking lot of Ampride, I think we would see even more recycling done,” Holter said.
Hillsboro City Administrator Larry Paine, Holter said, told him the city has bins behind the Lumberyard in the 100 block of North Birch Street.
“That’s the only way recycling is collected, because Hillsboro doesn’t have curbside recycling yet,” he said.
Holter said he believes all recycling in Marion County should be done in ways that are beneficial to its citizens.
“When there’s only one option available (curbside), a solution would be to add a permanent bin for the city of Marion,” he said.
“My personal opinion would be to have more convenient locations for the bins, because a lot of people are intimidated by the transfer station,” Holter said.