A steady stream of vehicles, some with trailers, pulled into the Cummins Engine Plant on Central Avenue on Thursday, dropping off everything from antifreeze and refrigerators to tires and computer equipment.
Bartholomew County residents had a 12-hour free pass to recycle unwanted items in an environmentally friendly way at Cummins’ Community Wide Recycling Day.
Halfway through the event, more than 350 vehicles had stopped in to drop off items.
Mark Slaton, an environmental engineer at Cummins and a Recycling Day organizer, said the company has hosted the annual event since 2012.
“We did it in 2010, but when we skipped a year, people complained,” he said.
“So we brought it back.”
The event is scheduled in June to coincide with the Cummins Environmental Challenge project.
The project encourages Community Involvement Teams from Cummins facilities around the world to compete for recognition as they address environmental concerns in their communities.
In 2012, local residents recycled more than 40,000 pounds of electronic waste and more than 20,000 pounds of other material.
Response was down last year, when about 30,000 pounds collected. Slaton said he expects to surpass the 2012 total this year — and by midafternoon more than 40,000 pounds of electronic waste had already been collected.
The recycling day is popular because some of the items Cummins accepts are difficult or expensive to recycle in an environmentally appropriate way, including tires and electronics.
“We are going to have to pay some for that, but we knew there was a demand out there, so we offered it,” Slaton said.
Disposing of tires at the Bartholomew County Landfill is $1.50 for a tire car or light truck tire without rims, and up to $25 for farm tractor tires, according to the landfill website.
By lunchtime, three 15-cubic-foot trailers were filled with tires, and more were coming in by the minute.
Kitchen appliances, furniture, outdated computer equipment and a host of other items were strewn on the front lawn of the engine plant.
Slaton said most people drop off small quantities of items accumulated in and around their homes, but others haul in huge loads.
Shawn Sipe of Columbus was making his second trip of the day with a truck and trailer piled high with worn-out tires.
“It would probably cost me a couple hundred dollars a load if I had to get rid of them myself,” Smith said.
John Ward, who is Van Buren Township Volunteer Fire Department chief, had a more moderate load of tires and other items to drop off.
“It’s great that they are doing this because a lot of this stuff would just get dumped somewhere,” Ward said.
“It’s awesome that we have an outlet to recycle these things.”
More than 100 Cummins employees volunteered to work at Recycling Day, which this year also included workers from the company’s Technical Center and Midrange Engine Plant.
Pat Whittington, who has worked at Cummins for more than 40 years, said she always signs up to help.
Whittington’s grandson, Colton Scheible, 14, also was volunteering as part of a 4-H community service project.
“It’s great to work for a company that cares so much about the community,” Whittington said. “They ask us to volunteer somewhere for four hours a year, but most people do a lot more than that.”