New program aims to make recycling easier

 Joe Vinduska at the Marion County Transfer Station unloads a variety of recyclables from a cardboard box Friday to show how ?user friendly? the county?s new single-stream recycling program is. Marion County residents will no longer have to separate glass, plastics, cans and jars from paper and cardboard now that single-stream recycling is available.

With some communities in the county recycling less than 5 percent of their solid waste materials, Rollin Schmidt, manager of the county transfer station, said he hopes more people will see this as a better option than adding to the landfill.

?I can remember the earlier days of recycling when there were five or six different categories of paper alone,? he said, which forced people to separate sheets of paper accordingly.

Schmidt said it was too bad recycling started that way because it didn?t encourage people to recycle and has turned some people against the idea altogether.

New procedure

Schmidt said many residents want to recycle, but aren?t sure how the new procedure works.

?We have been getting a lot of calls on how to bring it in,? he said.

Schmidt said individuals can choose the way they want to bring in recyclables.

?The only exception is plastic bags,? he said.

People can drop off materials at the transfer station at 320 W. Santa Fe in Marion.

?Bring them in cars or pickups, and someone will be there to help,? he said. ?There is an opening on the tipping floor. Just pull up (your vehicle) and we will take it from there.?

The whole process shouldn?t take more than a couple of minutes, according to Schmidt.

Recyclable materials

To determine what materials are recyclable, Schmidt said a good rule of thumb is if the container held food, the container is probably recyclable.

Pickle jars, any kind of aluminum or steel cans, plastic jugs and other items can be recycled, he said. All of them can be brought to the transfer station in the same container.

?If residents do only cardboard and paper (to begin with),? he said, ?they are getting rid of about 80 percent of their trash. If it?s paper, it goes.?

Coming soon

In the near future, recycling bins will be available in smaller communities such as Tampa, Florence, Burns and Goessel.

Residents in those communities will be able to take all their recyclables to the bins. In turn, the items will be emptied by the county.

Meanwhile, Hillsboro and Marion are looking at other recycling options.

In Hillsboro, City Administrator Larry Paine said the town will not be taking part in the county?s program.

?At this point, the sense that I have from everyone is that we want to continue doing our own recycle program in town,? he said.

?If somebody wants to do a full-stream process, they can go and deliver their goods over in Marion.?

Paine said the city will probably not be looking at a single-stream process until the council evaluates the city?s current sanitation program.

?We?re going to have to buy a truck in the near future,? he said, ?so we?re going to have to look at how we do regular collection, and then if you want to add (single-stream), how do we do that.?

Paine said that may mean contracting with a private company. If the city continues its sanitation program, picking up single-stream recyclables could require the new truck to be equipped differently.

Schmidt said he would like to see Marion and Hillsboro on board with single-stream by having something curbside for recycling.

?It would really make a big impact on Marion County on what we are taking to the landfill,? he said.

Peabody does curbside recycling through Waste Connections, a private garbage collection service that handles recycling.

Schmidt said if Marion and Hillsboro want to do something with Waste Connec?tions, that would be fine.

?We just don?t want it in the landfill.?

Final destination

Schmidt said the single-stream recycling materials collected at the transfer station will be hauled by semi to a recycling center in Hutchinson.

?Stutzman Refuge (owned by Waste Connections) has a $6 million machine that sorts all these materials,? he said.

The county will receive money for its recyclables, but Schmidt said it probably won?t pay for itself.

?For me, it?s something we should do?reuse products rather than use raw materials and make more and more,? he said.

He added that commissioners may discontinue the program if they believe the cost to collect and haul recyclables isn?t outweighed by the savings at the landfill.

For now, Schmidt and the commissioners are hopeful it will work. Schmidt said the commissioners approved the purchase of equipment to help with single-stream recycling at their Oct. 14 meeting.

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