recycling

President of NAT Transportation concerned about possible recycling location closure

To the users of NAT Recycling: For more than 20 years, NAT has supported, with the assistance of The Wood County Solid Waste District and The Bowling Green Recycling Center, the operation of it’s recycling center. This has been “a loss leader” for our trash business; in other words, it has been at a monetary loss for NAT. But, the users, made up of the homeowners of southeast Wood County, have appreciated this service and the Waste District supported the program. Recently, The Solid Waste District, with the approval of the Commissioners and Administration, has arbitrarily decided to discontinue its support of certain transportation and processing costs of material recycled from NAT to Bowling Green. This was done without conferring with NAT or The Bowing Green Recycling Center. Neither NAT or BGRC have the funds to assume these costs on a long-term basis nor have we requested additional support. This was despite for more than 20 years NAT’s processed tonnage has and still is, second only to BGRC in the Wood County area. In the meantime, the Waste District’s unencumbered funds (cash available) are at an historic high. Citizens should remember, by Ohio Law, the Office of the Wood County Commissioner’s is responsible to provide access to recycling through out Wood County. And we provide a heated, well kept all weather 24/7 location for Southeast Wood County. We, Mike Fairbanks and I, will be studying how this loss of funding will effect NATs operation of the 24/7 recycling, but without the FULL support of The Wood County Waste District, at this time we see the closing of our recycling program in the near future. We ask you to express your thoughts to your Wood County Officials by calling the Wood County Administration Office (Andrew Kalmar; Doris Herringshaw, Craig LaHote, and Theodore Bowlus) at (419) 354-9100; or the office of The Wood County Solid Waste District (Mrs. O’Boyle) at (419) 354-9297. Thank you for your time and understanding. Mick Torok President of NAT Transportation


Parker a natural as county environmental coordinator

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Beth Parker’s appreciation for the environment comes naturally. She grew up near Pittsburgh, spending time outside, with a dad who worked as a canoeing instructor for the Red Cross. Her love of nature has led her to the position of environmental program coordinator for Wood County. “I guess it boils down to respect,” Parker said. “The earth is our home. We should respect it. We’re not going to get another one, so we need to treat it well.” Parker earned an environmental science degree from Bowling Green State University, with a specialization in education and interpretation. She went on to work at the Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge in Ohio, the Long Lake Conservation Center in Minnesota, and most recently at the Wood County Park District as a naturalist. “When you have a love for nature, you want to protect it and make sure it’s well cared for,” Parker said. Parker took over the environmental program coordinator position just as the county opened permanent recycling sites at several satellite locations throughout Wood County. “That started the day before I started,” she said. “I’ve been out checking those to make sure things are going well.” The recycling sites are being used by many county residents, she said. But Parker has identified a need for education on some topics at the satellite locations. Some people are continuing to put their recyclables in plastic grocery bags, which cause problems. “They can tangle up the machines,” Parker said. And cardboard boxes should be flattened before being put in the drop-offs, she added. “But people are definitely using them, which is great,” Parker said. In addition to the county’s recycling efforts, Parker will also be giving tours of the wind farm and county landfill. She will be working on avenues for education, programs, and partnerships with community organizations. “I’m looking forward to being able to continue the educational opportunities they’ve been providing in the past,” she said. “I look forward to building relationships with other community groups, businesses, and governmental entities.” Parker is also interested in working on composting in the county. “It’s all about working toward a sustainable future,” she said.


Gamby a natural as BG’s first sustainability coordinator

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Amanda Gamby has been a tree-hugger and nature defender as long as she can remember. “This is pretty much who I am,” Gamby said as she sat in her office surrounded by recycling bins, giant plants, tree pictures, and hula hoops (we’ll get to that later.) “It’s always been where I’ve gravitated toward.” Soon Gamby will be leaving this office, as Wood County Solid Waste environmental educator, to fill the newly-created position of Bowling Green city sustainability coordinator. She starts the new job on April 2. When she takes over as sustainability coordinator, Gamby will be expected to be a “utility player,” said Joe Fawcett, assistant municipal administrator. She will be educating the public about the city’s programs for trash, recycling and sustainability. She will explain new rules to the public, plus give tours of the county landfill and the recycling center. And she will work with the utilities department on stormwater management, and on educating the public about the new solar field and wind turbines. Gamby is quite comfortable being a “utility player,” since she has appreciated combining her love of nature and teaching in her position with the county over the last 12 years. Wood County Administrator Andrew Kalmar has no doubt that she can handle the new job. “She’s really good with people,” especially with school-age children, he said. “She has a good way of communicating. She’s just a bubbly person.” That enthusiasm comes naturally, Gamby said. “I’m very personable with them, and I truly do care about each group who comes out” to environmental presentations, she said. As a child, Gamby always chose nature, recycling or litter collection for every Girl Scout, 4-H or school project. “We were always outside, as kids,” she said. She went on to get an environmental policy and analysis degree in college, and worked in education. So she already does double-duty as an environmentalist and educator. “It’s pretty awesome,” Gamby said with a grin. During her years with the county, Gamby worked hard to create a network and partnerships between like-minded agencies in the area. “I’m most proud of building those relationships,” she said. Gamby said she is looking forward to being able to concentrate her efforts on one community – Bowling Green – rather the entire county. “I’m looking forward to really being able to apply some of the training I’ve received,”…


BG Council asked to offer recycling pickup for renters

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Rachel Chapman wants to recycle in Bowling Green, but she lives in an apartment complex. The city of Bowling Green has made it a priority to pursue green energy options – with wind turbines to the west of the city and a solar field to the east. But no effort is being made to collect recyclables at apartment complexes. “It’s very troubling to me that half our population doesn’t have access to this service,” Chapman told City Council last week. Chapman said she has lived in Bowling Green for five years – first as a BGSU student and now as a teaching assistant with Bowling Green City School District. She has leased apartments from four different rental agencies over the years, and none of them have offered recycling as an option. For most of those years, Chapman had no vehicle, so it was almost impossible to recycle. “It’s a long way to ride your bike to the recycling center,” she said. Chapman asked if the city would consider offering recycling services to apartment complexes. “It’s leading to huge amounts being thrown away and filling the landfill,” she said. Council member Sandy Rowland thanked Chapman for bringing her concerns to council. She explained that the city made the decision years ago to not pick up recycling for businesses – which include apartment complexes. Rowland suggested that Chapman talk with her current landlord to see if there might be enough interest for recycling to be offered. Chapman said she had inquired, but the landlord was not willing. “Maybe you can put some more pressure on the landlord to provide this service,” Rowland said. While Rowland said she supports recycling, the city has to consider the economics of the issue. “It’s a big issue. It’s a money issue,” she said. Council member Bruce Jeffers suggested that Chapman use an economic argument to possibly convince her landlord that offering recycling could save on landfill costs. Rowland asked Chapman to submit her recycling ideas to council in writing. Council member Bill Herald said the recycling for apartments may be a good study topic for the city’s newly created position of sustainability coordinator. City Council also heard from another renter at last week’s meeting – this one with concerns about an overwhelming heating bill. Kyle Evans said his utility bills ranged from $370 to $480 a month. When…


County may can some recycling sites, extend others

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Wood County may be cutting back on its satellite recycling sites, but may also be turning some of those monthly sites into permanent drop-off locations. There are currently 15 satellite recycling sites operated by the Wood County Solid Waste Management District. Many of them are open once a month, according to Amanda Gamby, environmental educator for the district. They are located in Bloomdale, Grand Rapids, Jackson Township/Hoytville, Jerry City/Cygnet, Milton Township/Custar, North Baltimore, Pemberville, Perry Township, Perrysburg Township, Portage, Portage Township, Rudolph, Stony Ridge, Tontogany/Washington Township, and Weston. A survey conducted in 2015, through a partnership between the solid waste district and Bowling Green State University master’s of public administration program, was conducted to determine the interest in recycling among rural Wood County residents. A total of 2,725 surveys were mailed to rural resident, with 683 being returned. The study found: Rural residents had a favorable attitude toward recycling. A number of the residents said they drive to Hancock and Lucas counties to use permanent recycling facilities. Of those who use the satellite locations, 55 percent said they would increase their use beyond once a month if permanent sites were made available. As it is now, mobile containers are placed at each of the satellite locations so residents can drop off their recyclables once a month. The recyclables are separated at most of the sites by Scouts or other community groups. Those groups are paid a per capita allocation that adds up to roughly $127,000 a year, according to Kelly O’Boyle, assistant Wood County administrator. The satellite site program contracts with the Bowling Green Recycling Center to maintain the locations and transport the materials to the BG site. The contract is $86,400 for the year and expires at the end of this year. Due to the survey results, the solid waste district is considering shuttering some of the sites, and making others permanent. The hope is that recycling may be more attractive to some rural residents since they won’t have to store recyclabes in their house or garage for a month in between drop-off times. The four locations currently being suggested as pilot study for permanent sites are Tontogany/Washington Township, Milton Township/Custar, Pemberville, and Portage Township. Still needing to be discussed are further details such as the location of the sites, who maintains them, adequate lighting for safety during early morning and…


BG not giving up on finding glass recycling solution

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green officials aren’t giving up yet on finding ways to recycle glass rather than send it to the landfill. Last week, the Bowling Green Recycling Center announced that effective immediately, the facility would no longer be accepting glass. This applies to all the center’s locations, including the 24-hour drop-off site in Bowling Green, plus the satellite trailers and satellite facilities scattered throughout Wood County. That did not sit well with city officials, who found out about the decision through an email after the decision had been made. “Something like that, it would have been nice to be brought in a little earlier. It would have been nice to phase it in,” said Joe Fawcett, assistant municipal administrator for Bowling Green. City officials have contacted Bowling Green State University’s recycling program, which contracts with Waste Management for pickup of recycling materials. The city and county officials also plan to meet with Owens-Illinois representatives about possible glass recycling options. Fawcett said this morning that city officials realize that glass recycling has been a costly operation for some time. However, paying for glass to be landfilled isn’t cheap either – with dumping costs at about $40 a ton. “We’ve been struggling with it for a long time,” Ken Rieman, of the recycling center, said last week. “Basically, the market conditions are just to the point it’s too expensive to send the glass out.” The center had been sending glass from Wood County to a recycling site near Dayton. It was costing $30 a ton to ship the glass, for which it was paid $25 a ton. Late last year, the Dayton company raised its shipping costs to $40 a ton, and cut its payments to $10 a ton. The BG center then found a company in Sylvania to take the glass at no cost. However, that agreement ended abruptly, leaving the Dayton site as the only option, Rieman said. “It’s simple economics,” he said, estimating the center shipped out 350 to 400 tons of glass a year. “We’ve been handling it at zero dollars. We carried it as long as we can – and probably longer than we should have.” The Wood County Commissioners were asked to subsidize the glass recycling, since the county solid waste district operates satellite recycling sites throughout the county. The county declined. “Unfortunately, it’s a losing proposition,” Wood County Administrator…


No more glass to be recycled in BG – costs blamed for shattering program

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The glass bottles and jars gathering in the garage for recycling may as well be tossed in the trash. Effective immediately, the Bowling Green Recycling Center is no longer accepting glass. This applies to all the center’s locations, including the 24-hour drop-off site in Bowling Green, plus the satellite trailers and satellite facilities scattered throughout Wood County. It was just last month that a citizen spoke in front of Bowling Green City Council, challenging the body to do more to encourage greater recycling in the city – including more efforts to save glass from being landfilled. Years ago, the recycling center ceased taking glass in curbside bins, but continued to accept it at its drop-off site. But on Tuesday, the officials at the recycling center said that practice was over. “We’ve been struggling with it for a long time,” said Ken Rieman, of the recycling center. “Basically, the market conditions are just to the point it’s too expensive to send the glass out.” The center had been sending glass from Wood County to a recycling site near Dayton. It was costing $30 a ton to ship the glass, for which it was paid $25 a ton. Late last year, the Dayton company raised its shipping costs to $40 a ton, and cut its payments to $10 a ton. The BG center then found a company in Sylvania to take the glass at no cost. However, that agreement ended abruptly, leaving the Dayton site as the only option, Rieman said. “It’s simple economics,” he said, estimating the center shipped out 350 to 400 tons of glass a year. “We’ve been handling it at zero dollars. We carried it as long as we can – and probably longer than we should have.” The Wood County Commissioners were asked to subsidize the glass recycling, since the county solid waste district operates satellite recycling sites throughout the county. The county declined. “Unfortunately, it’s a losing proposition,” Wood County Administrator Andrew Kalmar said. “We don’t see this as a wise use of money.” Kalmar said the end to glass recycling wasn’t unexpected. “We probably all thought it eventually would happen.” The abrupt end did, however, come as a surprise to Bowling Green Mayor Dick Edwards. “I expressed my deep disappointment and concern to the county,” Edwards said Tuesday evening. “I understand the bigger picture. I understand the rationale,”…


BG challenged to do more recycling and composting

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green City Council has been urged to think “outside the landfill” as a way to save the city money. Neocles Leontis, a Bowling Green State University chemistry professor, suggested last week during a council meeting that the city could reduce its general fund shortfall by thinking creatively about waste generated in the city. He spoke when council asked for public input as they debated options to shore up the city’s general fund after a series of funding cuts from the state. Council members agreed the best option for raising $800,000 a year would be to start charging a fee for trash pickup. Leontis urged them to be more creative in their thinking about garbage. After meeting with Bowling Green Public Works Director Brian Craft about garbage statistics for the city, Leontis reported the city collects about 5,600 tons of garbage a year. Of that amount, about 12 percent is recycled – so about 5,000 tons end up being landfilled. The landfill charges $39.30 a ton, so the city is currently saving about $25,000 a year through recycling. Leontis suggested the city could do better – much better. While the city improved its recycling rate a few years ago after investing in the larger blue recycling containers, the 12 percent recycling rate is relatively low, he said. The average national recycling rate is about 35 percent, Leontis told council. If Bowling Green were to increase its rate to the national average, the city could save an additional $50,000 in landfill costs. But why stop there, he asked. “Why be average?” He presented City Council with a pie chart showing the average components of Ohio municipal solid waste from a recent study, pointing out that potentially up to 75 percent of the waste stream could be recycled or composted. Leontis’ conclusion was that Bowling Green could easily cut landfill costs in half while producing compost for agriculture. He challenged the city to convince residents to be more thorough about recycling items. “They are not putting everything in there that they could,” he said. Leontis’ comments prompted council to start discussing the possibility of lower trash fees for residents who generate less trash to be landfilled. Since the new garbage fee will not go into effect until next year, council has some time to discuss options that may result in less trash going to…


Fewer BG residents stashing trash in recyclable bins

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green is trying to use the carrot and not the stick to teach residents about the new garbage rules. But it turns out they are also having to explain that carrots and sticks belong in the trash, not in recycling. The problem came to a head a few weeks ago, when the Wednesday recyclable collection route on the east side of the city consisted of 35 percent trash, according to Ken Rieman, of the Bowling Green Recycling Center. It was believed that the increase in the garbage in recyclable bins was an unintended consequence of the new city ordinance requiring that garbage bins be closed when being picked up. Rieman surmised that residents with overflowing trash bins were stashing the trash in the recyclable bins instead. However, as of last Wednesday, the trash in the recyclable bins had dropped to 20 percent from the peak of 35 percent, Rieman said. “It appears the city education efforts have had some success,” he said. Municipal Administrator Joe Fawcett said the 35 percent was “an alarming rate.” So the city started a strong education push for residential areas close to BGSU, where it was thought that students might not realize the difference between the green garbage bins and the blue recycling bins. Bright green stickers are being placed on bins that are being used improperly. However, if the education isn’t enough, the city can cite citizens for putting trash in their recycling bins. “Obviously, that is a last resort for the city,” Fawcett said. “We’d rather work with them than fine them.” The new rule requiring the lids to be closed on garbage bins was to prevent pyramids of trash from becoming litter in neighborhoods, and to prevent the garbage bin lids from being broken off by the automatic arms that pick up the bins and dump them in the truck. In cases where city residents need extra space for garbage, additional bins may be acquired from the city public works office, Fawcett said. “The city is willing to work with people. You just need to reach out to us and tell us what you need,” he said. Though the amount of trash in recyclables has dropped in recent weeks, Rieman pointed out that 20 percent trash is still an unacceptable amount. More than 30 bags of garbage were removed from recyclable materials on…


BG recycling efforts trashed with 35% garbage

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Ken Rieman is accustomed to handling some pretty disgusting stuff. But lately, his job is enough to test even the toughest of stomachs. Last week, as he sorted through items at the Bowling Green Recycling Center, he came across raw hamburger squirming with maggots, dirty diapers and used feminine hygiene products. In the past, the amount of trash placed in residential recycling bins has averaged anywhere from 7 to 18 percent. But in the last couple weeks, that amount has jumped up to 35 percent. “That’s totally insane. We can’t handle that,” Rieman said. “That’s what I call abusing the system.” Rieman thinks he knows the reason behind the increase. He believes it’s an unintended consequence of the city’s new trash bin rules. He suspects the city requiring garbage bin lids to be closed is leading people with overflowing trash bins to sneak their extra garbage into their recycling bins. “The only explanation I have is the city trash rules,” he said. “They’ve said the lid has to be closed, so where does the trash go now?” On Friday, he stood at the Bowling Green Recycling Center, hand sorting items from bags that city residents had placed in their recycling bins. He sifted through cigarette butts, a filthy towel, footstool, used kitty litter, disc brakes, a broken scooter and rocks. “Anyone who thinks I ought to be sorting for recyclables is welcome to take my job,” Rieman said. But Bowling Green Public Works Director Brian Craft isn’t jumping to any conclusions that the new trash rules are causing the problem. “Trash in recycling has always been a problem,” particularly at the beginning of every fall semester as Bowling Green State University students return, Craft said. Every August and September, city workers visit neighborhoods near campus to educate students about trash and recycling rules. And this year may require even more education with the city’s new trash rules in place. The worst problems are occurring on Wednesdays, when the recyclables are picked up on the east side of Main Street, where most of the student population lives. “There are always people who won’t follow the rules,” Craft said. “You’ve got to give us a chance to educate people.” Since the recycling bins are dumped into city trucks with an automated arm, there is no way for workers to see trash in the containers….