West Chester cancels recycling due to people dumping disallowed items

People have been dumping everything from porcelain toilets to couches at recycling bins in West Chester Twp., causing extra work for service employees, so the township will cease the service next month.

The trustees looked on with disgust Tuesday as Township Administrator Larry Burks projected pictures of the large household items and mountains of trash piled near the large recycling containers. He announced they will be removing the bins and residents will have to pay Rumpke privately if they want to recycle.

“We can no longer pay for this, we’re paying a lot of time and money and then when you think about the opportunity costs double, they could be working in the parks, mowing lawns or making repairs or inspecting sewer lines or just doing the duties they’re hired to do,” Burks said. “No one was hired to pick up garbage. We’re paying through the nose because it’s garbage, Rumpke won’t take that.”

There are Rumpke recycling bins at Beckett and Keehner parks and at the old Activity Center site on Cox Road. Barb Wilson, director of of public information and engagement told the Journal-News the township doesn’t pay for bins, the cost is in staff to pick up the trash and in some cases take to the dump.

Burks said they will be removing the bins as of Oct. 1 for the time being but they are looking at other opportunities to still provide the convenient bins, such as placing them right near the police station “where we can monitor it with a camera if we need to.”

Trustee Mark Welch told the Journal-News he routinely uses the bins and it is a shame the service has to end.

“It’s a travesty, this is a service I think people in West Chester have come to enjoy, I do, I use it all the time,” Welch said. “But it’s like anything else, you get a few folks who abuse it and create a mess that causes more work and distraction and now we’re taking it out.”

Rumpke Communications Manager Molly Yeager said the problem is not just in West Chester it’s universal.

“They are not alone in this problem, this is an ongoing issue you see with drop boxes, you see illegal dumping that happens at the drop boxes but we also see people just putting incorrect items in the drop boxes and drop boxes are usually a higher source of contamination for recycling,” Yeager said. “One thing we did last year in an effort to reduce the contamination, we changed the lids out, we made smaller lids where people had to stop and think and they couldn’t just open the lids and drop anything in it.”

She said they marked on the lids what could be discarded and the largest items that fit are milk jugs or detergent bottles, “that really did help but what didn’t help was people just leaving it by the side of the dumpster.”

With the dumpsters departing residents who want to recycle must pay $4.75 per month for curbside service. Yeager said most communities in the county have that service option but there are rural townships to the north that don’t because “it’s not dense enough up there and it would be a much higher price.”

They estimate about 45% of all county households participate in curbside recycling service. The participation rate in West Chester is about 52% and Liberty Township is 48%. The cities of Hamilton, Middletown, Fairfield, Monroe, Oxford, Trenton and Ross Twp. provide recycling to all residents.

Anne Fiehrer Flaig, director of the Butler County Recycling and Solid Waste District, manages the recycling bin program — they take care of hauling away the receptacles — and she said it is a costly problem when people abuse the service.

“The challenge has been ongoing for probably the last 10 years with inappropriate use of the service,” Flaig said. “And it has created a lot of extra expense as the county because anytime we have to have those units pulled as trash it costs about twice as much as it is to have those units serviced as recycling.”

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