Portage County Solid Waste hopes to keep recyclables out of the landfill

Some communities have severed their contracts with the Portage County Solid Waste District, or never had one to begin with. That leaves would-be recyclers without curbside service or central drop-off points. Their only option is to throw everything into the trash.

Enter Bill Steiner, director of the Portage County Solid Waste Management District. He is not OK with landfilling everything and is currently gauging interest in establishing regional drop off sites.

“We don’t want to tell anyone not to recycle,” he said. “We do get calls from residents who are diehard recyclers that want to do this.”

Various communities have cited bin costs and residents using the bins for non-recyclable trash as reasons for ending their contracts with the recycling center. If regional sites are established, the communities where the bins are located would not be expected to absorb the costs, he said. 

“That’s just simply not fair to them, but I think we can do something across the board to make it fair for everyone,” he said.

Steiner’s next step is to meet with interim Finance Director Dave Lair to crunch the numbers. Buoyed by positive feedback he has gotten from some communities, Steiner hopes to set acceptable rate increases. No word yet on what the increase might be.

Even though Freedom Township trustees recently voted to approve curbside pickups, Steiner said he does not have the bins or the vehicles to provide that service.

If Freedom or other rural communities want curbside, rates would likely increase, but it could be done if the monetary stars align. Depending on how contract negotiations with Aurora and Streetsboro pan out, “We could move some assets to Freedom. We’ve got some other things in the way, we need to find out how they come out, and then we can adjust,” he said.

Open government

Meeting livestreams may come to fruition soon. Portage County commissioners set aside $20,000 to install WiFi in the county administration building. There was no mention of a timeline.

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Wendy DiAlesandro is a former Record Publishing Co. reporter and contributing writer for The Portager.