by Jacob Lane · February 05, 2014
After months of tedious press coverage and word-of-mouth, the publicity explosion that engulfed West Liberty recycling may have actually helped the program.
According to WL Streets and Solid Waste supervisor Adam Reinhardt, the amount of loads being rejected from West Liberty has dropped significantly since the news broke.
"It's all getting accepted down there, I'm not going to say it's perfectly clean, but it's getting accepted," he told the Index, "It's not getting rejected now that people are paying attention to it."
Currently, residents of West Liberty take their recycling goods to an outdoor facility, where they sort it and dump it into various bins. Those bins are taken to Muscatine to be recycled.
However, five months ago news broke that many of the loads sent to Muscatine were being taken to a landfill instead, specifically loads of plastic, glass and tin. The main reason was because of contaminates in the loads and improper sorting.
Right now Reinhardt is in charge of taking the loads over to Muscatine. He takes cardboard and plastic every Monday, tin and newspaper on opposite Mondays and magazines when needed.
"I'm pretty sure nothing has been rejected since this all came to light," he added. "It's not even close to being as bad as it used to be, that's a plus."
He also credits hefty fines from the police department and the presence of a camera for dissuading dumping. Unfortunately, garbage is still being left at the facility.
"There's still garbage out there, our garbage guys have to go out there and pick it up," added Reinhardt. "Garbage is definitely our biggest problem."
A 33 gallon bin is available for plastic objects and bags. Plastic is one of the worst contaminates when it comes to recycling, especially when recyclable items are tied inside a plastic bag.
Other plastic items such as walkers and baby strollers need to be separated from the loads in order to keep them successful.
"Some citizens have asked where we are with recycling and how it's been going," said Mayor Hartman at the end of council meeting Tuesday, Jan. 21.
"I have been informed that we're still recycling, that none of our loads of recyclable goods that have gone down for recycling have been rejected, so we have at least rectified that problem of getting our recyclables accepted," he added.
However, the council is still looking into recycling alternatives. Right now there's a push for West Liberty to go 'Landfill Free.'
West Liberty Foods, which achieved a landfill free status nearly a year ago, has offered to help the community create a program in which all food and food scraps are collected and turned into compost for farmland, sports fields and other venues.
"I'm passionate about this because I love it, I love making things landfill free and finding places to recycle these types of things, or finding another outlet for it. Repurposing items, it's just fun for me to do that," said Environmental Compliance Officer for WLF Michele Boney.
"If you guys do do this, we'll help you through this whole process. West Liberty Foods has already given me permission to help you guys," she added.
The program is run by GreenRU, which serves the greater part of Iowa including HyVee, Cosco, Kum & Go, John Deere, Tyson, Unity Point Health and other groups according to a slide show it presented during a work session before the weekly council meeting.
It repurposes food waste, instead of sending it to a landfill. West Liberty would be one of the first communities, if not the first in the nation, to achieve such a status should it succeed in the venture.
Boney states many grants are available, considering the new nature of the idea. In fact, should the city move quickly enough, the University of Iowa is offering 40,000 hours of student help to bring the idea to fruition.
She offered a step-by-step guide to get West Liberty to be landfill free, from collection procedures to educating the public. It would be a large project, one that would have the eyes and ears of the rest of nation.
The council has made no final decisions, but is interested in looking into going landfill free. As the year carries on the city will continue to examine recycling until a new program is implemented, whether that be landfill free or some other program.