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Township may shut down recycling drop-off if residents keep using it as a dump

A community recycling program drop-off site in Fairfield Twp. my be shut down because officials say some are abusing the taxpayer-funded service.

“This is a service that we try to provide to our community to assist them with their recycling efforts. But it’s very frustrating that people are choosing to use it inappropriately,” said Trustee Shannon Hartkemeyer. “They are treating it like a dump.”

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All seven of the recycling Dumpsters that sit next door to the Fairfield Twp. Police Department building on Vonnie Vale Court are regularly filled, according to township officials.

Unfortunately, people are leaving items like patio furniture, old mattresses and bed frames, and a plethora of other non-recyclable items, according to township officials.

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People have been dumping non-recycling items, including patio furniture, old mattresses and a couch, at the Shaffer’s Run Community Park in Fairfield Twp. (CONTRIBUTED)

“It’s every week,” said Julie Vonderhaar, Fairfield Twp. administrator.

And it’s causing safety concerns.

“Some of the contamination has caused fires at our recycling center,” said Molly Yeager Broadwater, a spokeswoman for Rumpke, which manages the Fairfeld Twp. community recycling sites. “We actually had two fires at our facility last week.”

Those fires are caused because people put items like batteries, propane tanks and full aerosol cans in recycling Dumpsters, she said.

People have been dumping non-recycling items, including patio furniture, old mattresses and a couch, at the Shaffer’s Run Community Park in Fairfield Twp. (MICHAEL D. PITMAN/STAFF)

The drop-off site at Shaffer’s Run Park was originally located at Butler Tech’s Fairfield Twp. campus. It was moved from the school about two years ago after people had left a multitude of un-recyclable items, including a chopped up boat and a decapitated deer head, township officials said.

There is also a second location in the township at the Morris Road fire station, which trustees said has an issue of recyclables blowing out of the Dumpsters because people don’t shut the lids.

Trustees said if people don’t start using the drop-off sites appropriately, then discontinuing the service may be their only option. They plan to discuss the issue and possible solutions during the next trustees meeting on Wednesday.

Trustees have several options to address the problem, such as building an enclosure around the drop-off units and locking them in the evenings, said Anne Fiehrer Flaig, Butler County Solid Waste District Coordinator. She also suggested the township add a trash Dumpster at the sites, which would be an added cost.

People have been dumping non-recycling items, including patio furniture, old mattresses and a couch, at the Shaffer’s Run Community Park in Fairfield Twp. (CONTRIBUTED)

“It is an important public amenity that we believe 95 percent of the people are using appropriately,” Flaig said. “If the problem is not improved, we’ll close it. I’d hate to do it. That’s not something we’d want to see.”

The option neither Flaig nor the trustees said they want is to shut down the sites.

“It’s a difficult decision, and it’s something we’re going to have to revisit this week,” Fairfield Twp. Trustee President Susan Berding said. “It’s going to be a tough decision.”

Berding said it’s “important” for the township to offer the recycling sites for residents, but “it really makes a mess for our service department to clean up and to figure out how to figure out how to dispose of those things not recyclable.”

That includes taking the time to transport the trash to Rumpke for disposal at the township’s expense, which is the taxpayers’ expense. But the bigger cost, Vonderhaar said, is the road crew’s time cleaning up other people’s trash.

“The main hardships includes the time that is involved,” she said. “There are lots of manpower hours involved.”

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