09/13/09 — Next on landfill ban list: Plastics

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Next on landfill ban list: Plastics

By Steve Herring
Published in News on September 13, 2009 2:00 AM

Wayne County residents Oct. 1 will face new state bans on wooden pallets, oil filters and plastic bottles at the county landfill.

While it might take residents some time to adjust to the plastic ban, the county has for years recycled oil filters and has discouraged people from brining the pallets to the landfill.

"We've always been ahead of these bans. We have never waited, just like with our (methane) gas system," county Solid Waste director Tim Rogers said. "You know there are still a lot of landfills that still don't have a gas system and are waiting for the state to mandate them to do that.

Recycling helps extend the life of multi-million landfill cells, he said.

Ideally, the simplest way to recycle the plastic would be to co-mingle all of the different varieties, Rogers said.

However, in order to give Wayne Opportunity Center, the local agency that recycles the county's plastic waste, more time to make the adjustment, it was decided to separate No. 1 plastics from the six other varieties.

No. 1 plastics are soda bottles and generate the most revenue through recycling. No. 2 plastics include milk and laundry detergent jugs and antifreeze containers. Numbers 3 through 7 include a variety of plastics, and the numbering depends on the manufacturer.

"The majority of what I think we will get from homeowners will be your beauty aids that come in those little tubes," Rogers said. "Some of those tubes are a 4, yogurt dishes and the little bowls that you get products in. We can take anything 1 through 7 except for pesticide and oil containers.

"We will hand out fliers and there will be a learning curve. It is tough getting the word out. I don't think it will create a big jump in tonnage for us. I think the majority will be 1s and 2s."

Oil containers will continue to be put in the garbage.

As for the pesticide containers, two bins have been set up for farmers at the Patetown and Grantham convenience sites. A third site is located at the Dudley landfill.

The Dudley site has a large shipping container used for farm pesticide containers and for household ones.

"All we have been recycling are 1s and 2s. Starting Oct. 1, all of the others will be recycled as well," Rogers said. "They are banned so we are not supposed to accept any in the landfill after Oct. 1. We want to make the public know to start to recycle those. I know it is going to be like the cardboard or any other ban that we have had, it's going to take time to get everybody in the mode, and we understand that. (The state) understands that as well.

"Most people have a container for 1s, and most have a container for 2s. What we are going to do is say put your 3s through 7s in with your No. 2s. We were going to co-mingle all of them and that would have been the best and easiest solution, but this is the problem at Wayne Oppor-tunity, when you co-mingle like that, they do not have a picking line, meaning they do not have a conveyor where that is going to ride through, and they are going to have five people on each side separating as it goes through."

Rogers said that the price Wayne Opportunity Center is receiving for plastic recyclables is low and that center director John Chance was concerned that if the plastic was co-mingled and had to be separated, not enough revenue could be made to offset the associated additional costs.

Not mingling the plastic means that the center could still get top price for the No. 1 plastics, he said.

The county could co-mingle all of the plastic and carry it elsewhere. However, doing so would not be cost-effective, he said.

"I would have to buy another $150,000 truck and hire another driver," Rogers said. "When Wayne Opportunity started taking our recyclables, we dropped a truck and a driver. Imagine what that costs per year. If we never get anything for (recyclables) it (Wayne Opportunity Center) is helping the county.

"Eventually, hopefully it will happen and John is looking at a picking line right now. When he gets that, it may be a year or two down the road, then we can co-mingle and everybody will love that. We need to do whatever we can to ensure that they stay open and stay up and running. The benefits to the county ... but if they were to close tomorrow, it would put us in a bind financially time-wise the whole nine yards."

Rogers does not expect the landfill will feel much effect from the ban on wooden pallets. The county receives very few, he said, and none go into the lined landfill.

The construction and demolition area will accept pallets that have been used in construction such as those on which bricks and shingles have been stacked.

Normally, the wooden pallets are steered to Kemp Recycling, he said.

The next ban facing landfills becomes effective in 2012 when televisions and electronics will be banned. The county already has collection boxes for electronics at Pikeville and Dudley.

"We have been doing that (recycling electronics)," Rogers said.

The county hasn't been "doing anything with televisions" since there is little recycling value, he said.

Nothing is in place at the moment to make recycling profitable, but Rogers is expecting something by the time the ban goes into effect.