Solid waste district streamlines recycling programs

Recycling hours and ser-vices will change this week as programs are streamlined to be more convenient and to increase participation.

Beginning Tuesday, the Columbus/Bartholomew County Recycling Center, 720 S. Mapleton St., will expand its schedule for business recycling and tox-a-way programs.

Those services will be offered on the standardized schedule of 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays, said Heather Siesel, Bartholomew County Solid Waste Management District director.

Having the expanded business recycling and tox-a-way programs just formalizes what already exists, Siesel said.

Although businesses were asked to only drop off cardboard Mondays, some participants who were confused about the schedule were sending box trucks to the center other days of the week, Siesel said.

“We weren’t stringent about the hours, and eventually found ourselves serving businesses throughout the week every day,” she said.

Similar confusion happened for those attempting to recycle certain toxic substances, including electronics — which were to be dropped off only on Wednesday mornings, Siesel said.

Besides electronics, other items accepted as part of the tox-a-way program include limited numbers of batteries, motor oil, thinners, oil-based paints and gasoline.

Businesses and residents are especially encouraged to bring discarded energy-efficient compact florescent (CFL) bulbs containing mercury, as well as unwanted electronics, Siesel said. Neither the CFL bulbs nor the electronics can be picked up curbside, due to laws and logistical problems, Siesel said.

In addition to expanding hours for recycling for businesses and the tox-a-way program, the district will also discontinue its mobile residential recycling programs in Hope and at the Kroger supermarket in Columbus, effective this week.

After curbside recycling began in Columbus 16 months ago, there was a significant drop in standard activity at the recycling center, Siesel said. The drop freed up enough staff to devote more time for business recycling and tox-a-way, she said.

Only about 20 people a month have been using the two mobile recycling programs since curbside recycling began, she said. With curbside recycling in Columbus, participation in the mobile residential programs declined by 60 percent, while tonnage dropped by 40 percent, Siesel said.

With any change, there are always those who will say they don’t have anywhere to recycle, Siesel said. However, she said other options are still available.

In Hope, recycling bins maintained by Rumpke Inc. are accessible at all times across from the Hope Utility office on Mill Street. In comparison, the district’s mobile recycling facility only served the northeast Bartholomew County community two Saturdays a month.

Besides the center on South Mapleton Street in Columbus, recycling is also offered in Harrison Township on Old Nashville Road, at the former landfill off East 25th Street near Petersville and at the current landfill on County Road 450S.

Other than protecting the environment from hazardous materials, another district recycling goal is maintaining the life of the current landfill life at 50 to 80 more years, Siesel said.

“Having our own landfill makes costs far more affordable than having to haul everything elsewhere, which is what many counties do,” Siesel said.

And by providing a number of recycling options, the organization believes they can greatly reduce incidents of illegal dumping that are commonplace in many rural counties with limited options, she said.

Overview of changes

Effective Tuesday, the Columbus/Bartholomew County Recycling Center’s new hours will be Tuesday through Saturday, from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Business recycling drop off and tox-a-way hours: Tuesday through Friday, from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

The mobile recycling routes at Kroger and Hope are being discontinued this week.

Other recycling locations:

  • Bartholomew County Landfill: Monday through Friday, from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Saturday, from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • Harrison Township and Petersville sites:  Saturdays only 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Information: 812-376-2614 or online at bcswmd.com

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Mark Webber is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at mwebber@therepublic.com or 812-379-5636.