The Chase County Board of Commissioners has approved more changes to the county’s recycle program which will take place during the third week of January.
The Commissioners approved the purchase of a new recycle trailer that should be available for use around Jan. 20.
The new unit is a self-contained, 20-cubic-yard dump trailer that is a single-open container. This will give the public more room to place recyclables. The openings through which materials will be loaded are also of a different style which should greatly increase ease of use.
The most notable difference is that there is no external cardboard container; therefore cardboard should be broken down, flattened and placed into the container along with all other recyclable materials.
Chase County finished 2015 with a total of 32.6 tons of recyclables. This was a slight increase from 2014’s total of 31.06 tons. Compared with surrounding counties, Chase County is still collecting much less tonnage per year. Both Morris and Marion counties collected nearly 350 tons last year.
Chase County’s program has seen increased efficiencies and increased ease of use since changing to the single stream system in July. Patron input has been mostly positive since the change was implemented, with the primary advantage being 24-hour availability. The second benefit has been that recyclables no longer need to be sorted.
The primary challenges the program has faced since the transition to single stream have been the deposit of improper materials and materials not being broken down or crushed.
Most of the improper materials are plastic films, i.e. trash bags, shopping bags, plastic films and food container liners (cereal box liners, etc.). While some of these materials are recyclable in certain circumstances, they are not accepted at the material recovery facility (M.R.F) that receives Chase County’s materials.
Therefore — at some point in the recycle process — these items must be sorted out and disposed. This may be at the recycle center in Emporia or the M.R.F. in Lawrence. Either way, these items are considered contamination. Another contaminant is automotive fluid containers. Again, they are recyclable in some places, but are not accepted by the M.R.F.
Materials not being broken down simply decreases the efficiency of the program. Most recyclable material is light and bulky. Plastics should be crushed or condensed as much as possible and cardboard should be broken down and flattened.
For example, many users will fill a cardboard box with broken down cardboard boxes, but this still takes up more space than when all boxes are broken down and flattened. Space conservation is critical to the efficiency of the recycle program. Drink bottles, laundry soap containers, milk jugs, and other plastic containers should be flattened, crushed, smashed, twisted etc. to increase density.
Shredded paper must be placed in a clear plastic bag so it is easily identifiable. This is the only exception to the plastic bag rule. Shredded paper which is placed in dark plastic bags is pulled out and discarded in the landfill.
Glass does not need to be broken before it is placed into the trailer as this creates a safety hazard to both patrons and employees. The M.R.F. is capable of sorting out both whole glass and glass that gets broken during transit.
Placards will be placed on all four corners of the new recycle trailer, listing acceptable and unacceptable materials and how material should be prepared prior to placement in the trailer. Simply placing a trash bag full into the trailer is not acceptable. Bags are not opened and dumped out at the recycle center in Emporia. Rather, due to health and safety concerns to the workers, they are picked out and put in the trash for deposit in the landfill. Bagged recyclables are bound for the landfill and not back into the supply chain.
Those who have any questions or comments about the Chase County recycle program, or if you would like a more comprehensive list of recyclable materials, may contact Thom Kirk at the Chase County Noxious Weed Department at 620-273-6585 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Correspondence may be mailed to Chase County Noxious Weed, P.O. Box 529, Cottonwood Falls, KS, 66845.