Editor’s note: This is the first of two stories on recycling issues in the county.
MOUNT VERNON — Officials from the city of Mount Vernon, Knox County and DKMM — the Delaware, Knox, Marion, Morrow Solid Waste District — offered their views recently on recycling issues within the county and city, including what can be done to make overall recycling services better.
County Commissioner Bill Pursel raised an issue last month with city Safety-Service Director Joel Daniels, wanting to know why the city drops off recyclables at the Monroe Township drop-off location at 13980 Wooster Road, next to the fire department. Those recyclables include plastic containers, glass bottles and jars, metal cans, empty drink cartons, newspapers, office paper and other items.
Monroe’s location is one of 15 recycling drop-off sites located throughout the county. Pickup is provided on Tuesdays and Fridays from Rumpke Waste and Recycling, working through a contract with DKMM. Under its agreement with four counties, DKMM is required to provide recycling access to 90 percent of all county residents.
Pursel, who lives in Monroe Township, said he was concerned that the Monroe recycling drop-off station with six containers is intended to be for township residents. Too much recycling dropped off by the city and others outside the township could potentially create an overflow situation. Recycables accumulate over the weekend as well as Monday, he noted, and are not picked up until Tuesday.
Daniels acknowledged that city pickup trucks have taken recyclables to Monroe Township because it is the closest to the city of the county’s 15 drop-off locations. He referred questions to Dave Carpenter, the city’s director of parks, building and grounds. Carpenter said city recycling drop-offs in Monroe are not a cause for concern. The city’s building and grounds recyclables are taken there by city employees who drive pickup trucks, but two city parks with recycling receptacles — Memorial and Ariel-Foundation Parks — have those recyclables taken away by Rumpke.
“I can assure you that the city of Mount Vernon does not produce an overflow situation (at Monroe’s drop-off station),” Carpenter said. “We don’t produce that many recyclables.”
He added that the city helps pay for the county’s recycling drop-off stations through charges assessed to waste hailers who take trash to the county landfill, with funds going to DKMM to provide the recycling drop-off stations.
DKMM Director Jenna Hicks said the city is not in violation of DKMM rules by taking recyclables to Monroe Township as it is not a commercial business. But if the drop-offs were high enough in volume, it could be something to address, she added.
Mount Vernon Mayor Richard Mavis said how the city handles recyclables varies by department, but offered that where to take them became more of an issue about four years ago. That is when Rumpke, which offered the city’s only drop-off recycling location on Columbus Road, decided to close the facility. The reasons the city received for closing the drop-off site included the facility not generating enough revenue to be viable. Mavis said the recycling center separated recyclables by type — plastics, paper, aluminum —and even accepted and paid for metal. Rumpke’s contract to operate the center had expired, so the city had little choice but to accept the decision.
“It was a really good operation, and we were disappointed,” Mavis said. “But we couldn’t subsidize Rumpke to run it. We don’t have that kind of money in the city to do it.”
The city tried placing recycling containers in places such as outside of Kroger, but those efforts did not work out, Mavis said. People would dump their trash in them.
Unless containers were monitored by staff, which the city did not have the finances to do, they would have continued to receive illegal dumping, he added.