There has been some confusion during the transition of recycling services from the organization Recycling for Newaygo County (RNC) to Newaygo County under the Board of Public Works. The county and the Fremont Area Community Foundation have partnered to continue the service for the coming year. During that time efforts will be focused on finding a sustainable solution for an issue that communities throughout the country have grappled with as the value of recovered waste products has plummeted over the past five years, and the amount of effort required to extract them has risen. N3 caught up with NC Drain Commissioner Dale Twing who chairs the Board of Public Works and posed a few questions.
Why is recycling important?
Recycling is important as it is a way to divert waste that can be made into something else. If paper, plastic, cardboard, glass and tin can be left out of a landfill and made into something else we should help facilitate that. The residents of Newaygo County recycled 796 tons of recyclables in 2016 using the Single Stream bins that RNC provided.
What makes it so costly?
The process of recycling can be expensive. The closest facility to process these items is the Kent County Materials Recovery Facility on Wealthy street in Grand Rapids. Newaygo County is a rural county and we do not have a landfill to offset any tipping fees. Kent County issues our hauler a tonnage fee to tip the recyclables at their facility. These tonnage fees have steadily increased in the last two years. Some of the materials have more value than others. Cardboard for example has some value while glass has little to no value at all. Plastics also are not valuable in the commodity market. Cardboard cannot be separated at the drop sites because that would violate the agreement our hauler has with Kent County and its against the rules. All recyclables collected at the single stream bins have to go to the Material Recovery Facility.
How does one know what can be recycled?
We are working on a new educational process to help alleviate some of the confusion about what is recyclable. Not all plastics are created equally. We have been getting a lot of things that contain plastic; vacuums, coffee makers, pools, siding, etc but none of those plastics are recyclable or accepted in our program. Styrofoam, aka, polystyrene is not accepted in any of the single stream containers (There is a styrofoam collection area at the Brooks Township site). When you put items into the containers that are not recyclable, our hauler tries to remove them and then they need to be thrown away. The best way to know if something is recyclable is to look for the recycling symbol on the bottom of your item. If it has one then it most likely is accepted. If it is a large plastic bike we can't take it. A good rule of thumb is that your items in your kitchen and office are usually always accepted, milk jugs, newspaper, margarine tubs, pickle jars, cereal boxes, and the like are accepted and welcome. New signage is being made along with recycling guides for the sites as well.
What about curbside services?
The city of Fremont does have a curbside recycling program that has been in place for around 20 years. Grant and Newaygo also have some options available within their city limits and their local hauler. Curbside recycling may become a feasible option if enough users are interested in it.
How can people get involved?
Volunteers are always needed. You can call the County Administrative office at 231.689.7200 for information on how to help.
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