Recycling concerns: Mayor: Refusing to trash recycling efforts

One Wapakoneta City Council member is concerned with the recycling of newspapers as refuse rates continue to increase.

Wapakoneta 3rd Ward Councilor Bonnie Wurst, who also is contracted to serve as the recycling educator for the Auglaize County Solid Waste District, said the rate of newspaper and paper recycling in the city and the county is one of the lowest of all the recycled products. City residents tend to do well in recycling aluminum, bottles and plastic, but not so well on tin and paper products.

Mayor Rodney Metz agreed with Wurst that there is room for improvement, but he would like to see more detailed statistics on recycling rates than the one he is provided.

“I can’t tell if there is a big problem with recycling newspapers because I don’t see where the newspapers are going that they don’t get,” Metz said. “Some of the refuse bags when you compact them in the trucks you could see the papers, but I also believe the amount of paper we are receiving at the center is pretty good.”

He did not have the actual data in front of him, but he recalled the city filling between one and two semi-trucks each month with paper.

“The other thing I question in my mind is are we getting the rest of the paper from businesses, especially when it comes to computer printout paper,” the mayor said. “Some are putting out bags of paper for recycling, but others may be putting it in dumpsters so we wouldn’t see that and others may be shredding their paper and throwing it out — but I really don’t want it in the dumpsters or the refuse stream.”

He even said he foresees the day where municipalities will have to one day have a zero waste stream.

“There are still a lot of things that can still come out of the waste stream that we are collecting in the refuse bags because we are only getting a percentage of the total and paper would be a part of that,” Metz said. “There are other items going into the refuse which we don’t have a way to take care of such as the bottle caps, whether it is a coffee top or pop bottle cap, and there is that proverbial  steel grate from an old grill that is being thrown away as opposed to being recycled.”

With refuse rates set to increase next year by 3 percent and the following year by another 3 percent, Metz said the cost to get rid of the refuse will eventually push municipalities to collect more and more through recycling efforts to reduce the cost of handling refuse.

“I would like to see us be able to pick up all the items that are recyclable, such as the lids and the bottle tops,” Metz said. “The source is obviously there, now a market has to develop which can use those items and recycle them and make them into a usable product again so it is out of the waste, or refuse, stream.”

Increasing refuse rates and decreasing landfill space will eventually push cities and villages in the direction toward zero waste stream, he said.

“In the future, the marketplace will generate the markets for the end-use as the costs to deal with refuse continue to rise and state and federal mandates continue to be more restrictive,” Metz said. “The other issue is the company we use to deal with the Environmental Protection Agency on the old landfill, they think in a fixed number of years that landfills will be dug up and the items in them recycled.”

Overall, he believes Wapakoneta residents are doing a fine job.

“We have a little bit of room to grow yet before we achieve a very comfortable, appropriate level of recycling — we have a little way to go yet,” the mayor said. “We are doing a lot better than other communities, but we have a little ways to go and that is because we don’t have a source yet for the material.”