Food scraps, satellite dishes, lawn chairs, car parts. These are just a few of the items pushed into, or left next to, recycling drop-box containers in Lycoming County.
In an effort to curb the excess of non-recyclable items sent to the county landfill, new recycling containers were purchased with smaller openings, making it impossible to push in large bags or big cardboard boxes.
“Now, instead of people bringing in these big bags and throwing them in, now they need to empty the back into the container,” said Lauren Strauser, recycling coordinator for Lycoming County. “This doesn’t allow material to go in that we don’t want.”
The roughly 40 new containers were funded through a combination of grant funds and landfill revenue, according to Strausser.
But this didn’t stop backlash from county residents about the inconvenience of the small holes. plagued the staff since mid-summer when the new containers were first placed at area recycling sites.
Complaints were lodged with the county commissioners and Resource Management Center staff, opening a debate about what should be allowed to be recycled and what shouldn’t.
According to Strauser, bags, hard plastics, electronics and other items were never permitted to be recycled, but with the large openings in the drop-off containers, it was difficult to keep them from finding their way to the landfill.
During their Tuesday public meeting, Commissioner Tony Mussare expressed concern for elderly residents who aren’t able to reach the small holes are shove
“We’ve had many many phone calls not only from constituents but also elected officials,” Mussare said. “I think we need to remodify that again.”
Jason Yorks, landfill director, urged caution and said that “people have been abusing drop-off systems for decades.”
“The openings are scaled to the objects we are able to recycle,” Yorks said. “We really have no outlets for the rigid plastics.”
Yorks instead urged the county and residents to recycle the proper material into the containers.
“The abuse is unreal.”
When non-recycleable material is sent to the landfill the staff who man the processing line must remove the items, and if there is too much or the items are too big, the conveyor belt must be stopped until the material is cleared. It then needs to be processed into the waste of the landfill.
Renewed efforts to inform the public about proper recycling procedures are underway, according to Yorks.