By Vinde Wells
Misuse of recycling containers has prompted county officials to take a hard look at one recycling program and to discontinue another.
Because of illegal dumping outside the bins, Ogle County Solid Waste Management Department Director Steve Rypkema said last week that officials have tightened monitoring at household recycling stations throughout the county and will consider other options during upcoming planning sessions.
For the same reason, the electronics recycling program will be discontinued at the end of this month and a new plan put in place in July.
For household recycling, large roll-off containers are located at Byron, Forreston, Oregon, Monroe Center, and Rochelle and are overseen and paid for by the Ogle County Solid Waste Management Department.
A site in Polo has been provided by Moring Disposal Service at no cost to the city or Ogle County.
An additional container provided by Advanced Disposal Services is located at the Orchard Hills Landfill.
The containers are intended for those who do not have curbside recycling at their residence, such as apartment dwellers and people who live outside of town where they cannot get curbside recycling.
“Over the past few months, the number of illegal dumping incidents at these sites have increased so much that continuation of the program is being threatened,” Rypkema said.
Items such as tires, construction or remodeling waste, electronics, household garbage, hazardous waste, scrap metal, and other waste are being left in and around the recycling containers, causing added expenses and labor.
The containers are intended strictly for household recyclable items including newspaper, flattened cardboard, other paper such as magazines, catalogs, junk mail, and cereal boxes; plastic containers and bottles with the recycling symbols numbered 1-7, except Styrofoam; empty aluminum and steel cans and lids; and empty glass bottles and jars.
Items may not be left on the ground or outside of the container.
No plastic bags, batteries, electronics, diapers, containers with product left in them, food waste, or other household trash are allowed.
Several months ago, the problem of garbage being left outside the container in Polo became so severe that the city installed surveillance cameras aimed at the site.
Rypkema said that has helped the situation, and the county may follow suit at the other sites.
“We have tightened up monitoring and put up signs,” he said. “The next step will be surveillance cameras.”
One of the problems Rypkema said is that the containers fill up fast leaving residents with no place to put even the allowed items.
“Sometimes they fill up faster than we anticipate,” he said. “We’re trying to arrange for more frequent pick-ups but that adds to the cost.”
Residents could help that by flattening boxes and plastic bottles, he said, leaving more room in the recycling bins.
Another problem is businesses using the bins, Rypkema said.
“We like the fact that businesses are wanting to recycle their waste, but this program is just not designed to handle the volume from businesses and residents,” he said. “They must contact their local waste hauling company to get recycling at their place of business. They are not allowed to use the drop-off containers.”
Citations and fines may be imposed for those who dump illegally at the sites. Fines of up to $1,500 can be imposed for open dumping under Illinois law.
For more information call the Ogle County Solid Waste Department at 815-732-4020.