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March 26, 2019

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Local group gets recycling “eye-openers”

During recent tour of Shelby County Recycling Center by Transition Bluffton

By Liz Gordon-Hancock
One compacted bale of cardboard weighs 2,000 pounds. That's roughly the same as the payload of an F150 truck. This was just one of many eye-opening facts the Transition Bluffton group discovered when they toured the Shelby County Recycling Center recently.

The North Central Ohio Waste Managment District (NCOWM), who operates the center, showed the group of nine people what happens to our recycling. Damp cardboard, crumbled newspaper, broken glass and crushed cans all jumbled together with plastic bottles - this is what the garbage truck delivered. It looked like a load of refuse, before the combined powers of the dedicated staff and the hi-tech equipment got to work.

It takes a lot of work to separate recyclables, especially when people mistakenly put brake callipers, cuddly toys and diapers in the recycling bin.

This center processes three to four loads of recyclables per day. Each load is up to six tons. Jack DeWitt, Operations Manager for NCOWM, said the facility processes 240 tons of recyclables per year. None of the recyclable materials processed at the center go to China.

The center has six staff, four of which are district employees. It's clear that the NCOWM district staff are passionate about recycling, and they're not doing it to make a profit.

"If there's money in it, the private sector would do it. We do it as a service to the public," said Dennis Baker, executive director of NCOWM district.

Cardboard used to sell for $160 per ton, but is now more like $65 per ton. And the price can fluctuate - the most recent batch of aluminum sold for 60 cents per pound, whereas last week's batch sold for 72 cents.  

Even though the price of recyclable materials has gone down overall, the volume being recycled (and thereby needing processed) has remained the same. NCOWM manages three sites within the district, which includes Allen, Hardin, Shelby, Champaign and Union counties.

In addition to recycling, the center also takes household hazardous waste (HHW) and electronic waste (e-waste) for residents of the district. It costs $1 per pound to recycling your HHW, but Joe Martin, projects coordinator, stresses that the district is not making any money off this. "We try to take stuff that others won't take," Martin said. This includes paint, pesticides, old TVs and sound speakers. Click here for further information on what the NCOWM district accepts. Call to arrange an appointment to drop off any HHW or e-waste at the district office in Lima: 1-800-553-6763.

If you would like to know more, Baker will be speaking at the upcoming Transition Bluffton event at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 21 on the third floor of Town Hall.

This article is part five of the Icon's Recycling series. Click here to read previous articles in this series.


In the photo, the tour group stand next to a 2,000 pound bale of compacted cardboard. Members of the tour are (from left to right): Johnny Faro, Jesse Blackburn, Liz Gordon-Hancock, Ben Stahl, Sally Sommer, Ken Lawrence, Jenny Pilarowski and Neil Hauenstein. (Jon Sommer, not pictured, also attended the tour.)