OREGON, Ill. — Recent illegal dumping incidents at the Ogle County drop-off recycling stations throughout the county are causing officials to reconsider the program and ask for help from those who use the sites.
Items such as tires, construction or remodeling waste, electronics, household garbage, hazardous waste, scrap metal, and other waste are being left in and around the recycling containers, causing added expenses and labor to the program.
The large roll-off recycling containers are at Byron, Forreston, Oregon, Monroe Center and Rochelle, and are overseen and paid for by the Ogle County Solid Waste Management Department.
A site in Polo has been provided by Moring Disposal Service at no cost to the city or Ogle County.
An additional container provided by Advanced Disposal Services is at the Orchard Hills Landfill.
The containers are intended for those who do not have curbside recycling at their residence, such as apartment dwellers and people who live outside of town where they cannot get curbside recycling.
Over the past few months, the number of illegal dumping incidents at these sites has increased so much that continuation of the program is being threatened.
Steve Rypkema, director of the Solid Waste Management Department, said providing the containers and regular pick-up and transportation to the recycling facilities are direct costs to the department.
“We pay the hauling costs each time the containers are emptied and currently receive nothing for the materials,” Rypkema said. “The recyclables collected in the containers currently have little value, and all of the non-recyclable items placed in the containers add to the cost. Other waste dumped at the sites costs the department even more to dispose of properly, and with the limited staff we have, it makes it very difficult to maintain the sites. We need the help of those who use the sites to follow the directions and not leave unauthorized waste at the sites.”
The container is strictly for household recyclable items, including newspaper, flattened cardboard, other paper such as magazines, catalogs, junk mail, and cereal boxes; plastic containers and bottles with the recycling symbols numbered 1-7, except Styrofoam; empty aluminum and steel cans and lids; and empty glass bottles and jars. Items may not be left on the ground or outside of the container. No plastic bags, batteries, electronics, diapers, containers with product left in them, food waste, or other household trash are allowed.
The Solid Waste Department staff are asking residents to pick up an instruction sheet from the information boxes at each site and to strictly adhere to those directions.
“We also have a Waste Disposal and Recycling Guide on our website or available upon request at the department where residents can find options for disposal or recycling of most types of waste, which are not allowed in the drop-off containers,” Rypkema said. “We just don’t want people using the county drop-off recycling sites for stuff they don’t know how to get rid of.”
Another problem identified by Rypkema is that businesses are using the containers to recycle.
“We like the fact that businesses are wanting to recycle their waste, but this program is just not designed to handle the volume from businesses and residents,” he said. “They must contact their local waste hauling company to get recycling at their place of business. They are not allowed to use the drop-off containers.”
One of the most frequent complaints to the Solid Waste Department is that the containers are frequently full when residents go to use them. In 2013, more than 1.8 million pounds of recyclables were collected through the program.
The department has one person who checks on three of the sites, and two part-time people who maintain the sites in Forreston and Rochelle. Sometimes the containers fill up faster than anticipated, and scheduling a pickup is based on availability of a driver from the hauling company.
“The program is very popular with county residents,” Rypkema said, “so keeping the containers emptied when needed can be challenging. People can help by flattening boxes, cans, plastic bottles and jugs to make more room in the containers. Also, people who have curbside recycling at their home should use that program, not the drop-off containers.”
Residents with curbside recycling can call their waste hauler or city to request extra recycling containers if their bins are overflowing before pick-up day.
The Solid Waste Management Department will be looking into more frequent pick-ups and additional options to improve the sites. Closer monitoring will be done, additional signs may be posted, and information boxes have been restocked with instructions for users. If illegal dumping of waste continues at the sites, security cameras may be installed to deter and catch illegal dumpers. Citations and fines may be imposed for those who dump illegally at the sites. Fines of up to $1,500 can be imposed for open dumping under Illinois law.
However, even with these measures, the success of this program depends on Ogle County residents who use the recycling containers. They must strictly follow the guidelines that are posted at the site and are available in the information box. Recycling instructions are also available at the Solid Waste Department’s website, www.oglecounty.org.
Residents are asked to help keep up the site by picking up any litter and by reporting any illegal dumping or other problems to the Ogle County Solid Waste Management Department at (815) 732-4020.
From the June 25-July 1, 2014, issue