By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN
BG Independent News
More than 300 local businesses save on garbage pickup costs and conserve landfill space by separating their recyclables from their trash.
Businesses from Northwood to North Baltimore use a program operated by Wood Lane’s Community Employment Service, called R&R, to pick up their recyclables.
“This is truly intended to be a county-wide program,” said Vic Gable, head of CES.
But while the program picks up recyclables for many private businesses, schools and government offices, it collects items from just two apartment complexes in Bowling Green. While the city picks up recyclables at residences, it does not collect them at apartment complexes.
During a recent meeting of the Bowling Green City-University Relations Commission, members discussed the lack of recycling at apartment complexes and downtown businesses.
Chris Ostrowski, a member of the commission, said he was the first to start apartment recycling in Bowling Green in the 1980s at Summit Terrace, which has 96 units.
“We started because it made economic sense,” Ostrowski said. “It was cheaper than having someone pick it up as trash.”
Most of the student renters want to recycle, he said. “For the most part, the students see it as a positive thing.”
According to Ostrowski, many apartment complexes don’t offer recycling since the owners are responsible for the start-up costs. Unlike other residences, where curbside containers are provided by the city, the apartments would have to purchase the bins.
The Wood Lane program partners with the Wood County Solid Waste District to provide recycling containers to school districts throughout the county. The R&R program does not charge for its services, but it does require private businesses to buy their own containers.
“One of the challenges with the business community is they have to purchase the containers themselves,” Gable said. “We have to try to break even.”
The three trucks used for pickups were purchased with grant funding. Some of the larger corporate customers are Calphalon and Johnson Controls. About 50 small businesses in Bowling Green are involved.
But only a few downtown Bowling Green businesses, like Ben Franklin, Finders and Panera, are part of the recycling program, Gable said.
“I know there are other entities interested,” he explained. “But there are a lot of challenges to make that happen. There’s really no place to put big recycling containers.”
The R&R program collects aluminum and steel cans, plastic, cardboard, newspaper, magazines, office paper, books and shredded paper, which are then sold to the BG Recycling Center. Last year, the program saved several million tons of cardboard from being landfilled, Gable said.