Fayette County will soon be part of a pilot program that includes a gated recycling area with security cameras, according to officials.
The current recycling center located near the Fayette County Dog Shelter and Landfill in Washington Court House will be the location of the new program, according to Fayette County Commissioner Dan Dean.
The company that will be installing the new system is Silco Fire and Security out of Columbus. While the cost for the system is $25,100, that cost will be covered by a grant through the RPHF Solid Waste Management District, which Fayette County is included in. RPHF stands for Ross, Pickaway, Highland and Fayette counties.
“We’re trying to improve the education process on how things need to be recycled, because when the wrong stuff gets put in the bins, unfortunately it all goes to trash. So, it kind of defeats the purpose. So what they are going to do is, Silco is going to put a locked gate around there and we will pass out fobs to people who want to bring their trash. So, all they do is place their fob and they can get into the gate. There’ll be cameras there,” said Dean.
During an interview with the Record-Herald, RPHF District Director Erica Tucker and RPHF Assistant Director Lauren Grooms explained there is currently no date set for when the project will be completed, although it is hoped the project will be completed by the end of the year.
The fobs to open the gate will not cost residents to obtain. According to Tucker, once the system is set up, the plan is for Fayette County residents to be able to register either with a form or online, and then pick up the fobs from a local location.
With the planned system, RPHF will be able to turn off the fobs of anyone who is caught illegally dumping so they can no longer contaminate the recyclables, according to Tucker.
“We have seen a huge increase in contamination — illegal dumping at our recycling sites, and it’s just not working over here,” explained Tucker. “This has kind of been years-in-the-making, but COVID has just kind of sealed it. More people are at home, and they have all this stuff, and they want to take it somewhere, but they don’t want to pay to take it somewhere, so they just leave it at the recycling center.”
Often, Tucker and Grooms explained they find items dumped behind the recycling bins. During the interview with the R-H at the center, a broken television was sitting behind the bins, white paint stained part of the concrete where it had leaked after being dumped, and shattered glass was around the bins.
“The issue of illegal dumping needs to be combated because all the work that we’re doing trying to recycle isn’t making a difference,” said Tucker.
Different geographical areas can accept different items for recycling depending on what the company taking the recyclables can do with it. This can vary greatly county-to-county.When bins are contaminated with items that are not accepted for recycling by that company or with regular trash, everything inside the bin ends up going to the landfill and none of the items within it get recycled, explained Grooms.
The day after New Year’s Day and the day after the Fourth of July were two of the recent, worst days for illegal dumping, according to Tucker and Grooms.
“If it weren’t for the Fayette County Engineer’s Office, I’d probably still be here cleaning it up. It was horrendous,” said Tucker in reference to the day after New Year’s.
The service department assists when it is able and needed, although assisting with the cleanup of the recycling center isn’t part of the service department’s services nor is it the department’s responsibility, according to Tucker.
Grooms explained the issue of illegal dumping in reference to the day after Fourth of July, “it was piled higher than the containers and halfway out the pad. The Rumpke drivers and I spent roughly five hours out here cleaning it up.”
The pad Grooms was referring to is the concrete slab the recycling bins sit on, which is approximately 2-years old even though it looks older due to mistreatment, according to Tucker and Grooms.
When the bins are contaminated, and therefore the items inside cannot be recycled, the bin contents need to be taken to the landfill. When this happens, Rumpke has to be contacted to send extra trucks that may already be full of garbage and may need to make multiple trips, according to Grooms. There is a fee for each item or bin that needs to be taken to the landfill.
“So, on top of not getting that nice, clean recycling Rumpke material that they want that we’re paying for them to get, we have to pay them to come get trash to dispose of in their landfill. That is not a cheap bill,” said Tucker.
The bills depend on what needs to be removed and can vary, although one of the bills from one of the recent holiday worst-days was approximately $600.
“That’s money that we’re supposed to have for recycling purposes,” said Tucker.
The solid waste district, according to Tucker, only receives funds through the trash being disposed. They receive $3 per one ton of trash. She further explained that recycling does not bring in any income. This means that when illegal dumping occurs, the district loses funds trying to clean it up.
“We’re not a trash service,” said Grooms.
“Our mission is to get clean material and to stop illegal dumping,” explained Tucker. “Stop contractors from coming in and dumping their construction debris, or landlords coming in and dumping their mattresses or whatever their tenants left them, or their tenants coming in and leaving whatever they can’t take — it’s a whole multitude of people bringing in stuff they shouldn’t here.”
To learn more about RPHF, visit www.rphfsolidwastedistrict.com/. More information will be shared about the recycling pilot program as it becomes available.
A previously printed article titled, “Tips offered to residents for proper recycling,” can be found on the Record-Herald website.
“This is a small county, and we need to keep it clean and care about where we’re living, and just take care of what we have,” said Tucker.
Reach journalist Jennifer Woods at 740-313-0355 or on Twitter @JennMWoods.