Five tons of reasons recycling is working
A milk jug and a pop can.
Two items most people use on a daily basis.
But after the milk has been consumed, what happens to the plastic container? And after the soda is gone, what do you do with the can?
If you’re like a growing number of people in Seneca County, you toss them into your home recycling bin, and then you drop them off at an Aim to be Green recycling station.
More than 5 million pounds of recyclables were collected in the three counties served by Ottawa Sandusky Seneca Solid Waste District’s Aim to be Green recycling drop-off program in its first year of operation.
And the trend is toward increasing numbers.
“So far, we’ve just had a really good response to the program, and the more they start to learn about it, the more they take advantage of it,” OSS Director Tim Wasserman said. “Our goal is to keep increasing.
“We designed the program so we could add more containers and more pick-up times. The flexibility of the program allows it to grow. So far, we’ve been able to keep up.”
He said there have been no issues to deal with.
“The first year often has growing pains, and I thought we would have more issues and problems with the program,” he said. “It was a big undertaking to try to change all those locations. We just weren’t sure initially how successful it would be.”
Wasserman said much of the success is because of the cooperation of township trustees.
“We appreciate the cooperation of all of the township officials and the maintenance guys because they are the ones who are taking care of it, making sure the snow is plowed around the containers,” he said.
At the end of September, which ended the first year of operation, district residents had recycled 5,019,642 pounds, and from Oct. 1 through Nov. 22, another 824,170 more pounds had been recycled.
“The amount of material recycled demonstrates that our district residents are committed to recycling,” Wasserman said. “The program would not be successful without their participation.”
In the townships
Adding up poundage from each of the Seneca County stations since the program began, Clinton Station No. 2 has collected by far the most recyclables at 344,142 pounds. Collecting more than 100,000 pounds were Big Spring Township at 163,068, Clinton Station No. 1 at 140,054, Attica/Venice at 131,032 and Loudon Township at 121,161. Weights are recorded from each drop-off site using scales on the forks of the trucks used for pickup.
The rest of the stations’ poundages were: Hopewell Township, 92,988; Liberty Township, 92,025; Eden Township, 89,271; Bloom Township, 84,022; Jackson Township, 75,516; Thompson Township, 67,217; Pleasant Township, 58,829; St. Francis Campus, 55,326; Scipio Township, 45,419; Reed Township, 43,482; and Adams Township, 42,728.
The amount of recyclables being dropped off at the sites has been steadily increasing since the program began Oct. 1, 2012.
Between October and the end of March 2012, numbers ranged from a low of 69,000 pounds in the first weeks to a high of 100,300 in January.
Since April 1, however, drop-off poundage has not dropped below 92,000, and has been below 100,000 pounds only a half-dozen weeks. The highest amount recorded in one week was 138,872 pounds during the short week of May 28-June 1 after Memorial Day. The least amount recorded after April 1 has been 92,200 in mid-September.
In the first eight weeks of its second year, the Aim to be Green program has collected 824,170 pounds of recyclables, compared to 677,804 pounds in the first eight weeks of its first year.
Throughout the three-county area, Aim to be Green provides 139 eight-cubic-yard recycling bins at 41 sites. They are available for use seven days a week during daylight hours.
Separation of recyclables into different containers is not required.
“This requires less space when storing materials at home,” Wasserman said. “When you to take your recyclables to the bin, you can easily place materials into the bin using the lid or sliding doors located on the side. The sliding doors are positioned at a convenient height for easy accessibility.”
For larger items, the bin has a top lid, but some lids are locked to prevent them from blowing open during windy conditions.
Materials accepted for recycling in Aim to be Green bins include aerosol cans with tips removed, aluminum cans, cardboard, glass bottles and jars, cartons, magazines, newspaper, office paper and junk mail, paperboard, No. 1 and 2 plastic bottles, No. 3 and 7 plastic food containers and steel cans.
Cardboard and paperboard boxes should be broken down or flattened to conserve space in the recycle bins.
To reduce contamination, residents are asked to removed items from plastic bags before placing them in the bin. Also, do not include items that contain food such as pizza boxes with cheese stick to them or plastic jars with peanut butter still inside.
Some items that cannot be recycled include Styrofoam and packaging materials such as tissue paper, packaging peanuts and bubble wrap. They should not be placed in the bins.
Recycling in Tiffin
Recycling in Tiffin remains in a holding pattern since Karl’s Hauling announced its plans to close its recycling center. However, the center remains open two days a week until a long-term solution can be worked out. Hours are 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Mondays and Wednesdays at 72 Adams St.
Tiffin City Council is considering recycling options.
Vicki Turco of Karl’s Hauling said the company is trying to work out some issues and she wasn’t sure how long the temporary hours would remain in place.
Although the rural drop-off spots aren’t designed to handle a city recycling program, Wasserman said the higher numbers at Clinton Station No. 2 are likely because Tiffin residents are dropping off items there.
“Those are only designed for rural locations,” he said. “They are not designed to handle a city’s recycling.”
But Wasserman said Tiffin’s limited drop-off times are not ideal.
“It provides less options for the residents,” he said. “If the city has set up Karl’s as the recycling option, we would prefer they use that.”
However, he said he would rather city residents drop off their recyclables at the township location than not recycle at all, but it’s a short-term solution.
“The best option for Tiffin would be curbside recycling,” he said. “The city has kind of kicked this can down the road for eight to 10 years,” he said. “While council has been reluctant, I hear from residents, ‘Why don’t we have curbside in the city?’
“That’s what we’ve been hearing from the (township) residents. They like the convenience that it’s available every day,” he said. “That’s an issue that needs to be resolved.”
District-wide, Wasserman said, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency statistics show 45,274 tons of recyclable materials were collected from residential homes in the three counties in 2011, which is the latest information available on EPA’s two-year reporting cycle. That’s an estimated 25.75 percent.
Recycling from industries totaled 85,129 tons in 2011, which is more than 73 percent.
The district is part of the nationwide statistics on municipal solid waste tabulated by U.S. EPA and available on its website.
The information includes items such as packaging, food waste, grass clippings, sofas, computers, tires and refrigerators, but does not include industrial, hazardous or construction waste.
According the U.S. EPA, Americans generated about 250 million tons of trash in 2011, and recycled almost 87 million tons, or 34.7 percent.
On average, each person generated 4.4 pounds of waste per day, and recycled 1.53 pounds, leaving 2.87 pounds to go into landfills.
Organic materials are the largest waste product. This category includes paper and paperboard, 28 percent of municipal solid waste; yard trimmings and food waste, 28 percent; plastics, 13 percent; metals, 9 percent; rubber, leather and textiles, 8 percent; wood, 6 percent; and glass, 5 percent.
But organic materials also are the most often recycled, the website states, including paper and paperboard, 53 percent; yard trimmings, 22 percent; food waste, 2 percent; plastics, 3 percent; metals, 9 percent; wood, 6 percent; and glass, 4 percent.
Food waste is the largest category discarded, at 21 percent. Others are plastics, 18 percent; paper and paperboard, 15 percent; and rubber, leather, and textiles, 11 percent.
Since 1990, EPA says, the total amount of municipal solid waste going to landfills dropped by more than 11 million tons, from 145.3 million to 134.2 million tons in 2011.
The net per capita discard rate after recycling, composting and combustion for energy recovery was 2.36 pounds per day, a decrease from 3.19 pounds per capita in 1990.
“Recycling has environmental benefits at every stage in the life cycle of a consumer product – from the raw material with which it’s made to its final method of disposal,” the EPA website says. “By utilizing used, unwanted, or obsolete materials as industrial feedstocks or for new materials or products, we can each do our part to make recycling work.”
In addition to environmental benefits, EPA says recycling also benefits the economy and job creation.
More information on the Aim to be Green program or other OSS district programs can be found at www.recycleoss.org.