County residents will still be able to drop off materials at the Portage County recycling center, at least for a short time.
Bill Steiner, director of the Portage County Solid Waste Management District, had petitioned commissioners to close the drop-off service, citing too many people dumping trash and garbage instead of recyclables.
“Quite honestly, I’m tired of sprinting out to the drop-off to tell people don’t drop a pool ladder off just because it’s plastic. We’re getting more and more stuff dropped off on us that is just not recyclable,” he said.
Waste management employees must then be detailed to sift through the bins, separating what can be recycled from what can’t.
Noting that all the communities surrounding the center have curbside service, Steiner said, “the amazing thing is I’m looking at license plates, and the vast majority of them are not from Portage County,” he said.
He said he recently fielded a phone call from a Munroe Falls resident asking if the center was open to accept cardboard.
When waste management is able to return to normal service levels, Steiner said he would like to permanently close the center’s Mogadore Road drop-off site.
“The only reason why I caught the person with the pool ladder was I was downstairs and happened to glance over at the monitor, and he was pulling this behemoth out of his pick-up truck, and as I watched him walk towards the bin, I flew out the front door,” he said.
That incident, and others like it, have created more work for the center’s employees, who Steiner says are already overworked because of low staffing levels.
Objecting to immediately closing the Mogadore Road drop-off site, Commissioner Sabrina Christian-Bennett said people haven’t had a lot of time to adjust from weekly to biweekly curbside recycling service.
“They may want to bring this stuff because they knew that was an available means, that they could at least take it there,” she said.
Steiner agreed to put the center’s drop-off site on life support for two weeks, agreeing with Christian-Bennett that county residents are already dealing with the district’s recent decision to switch to biweekly pickups.
“It’ll give people a chance to get used to this,” Commissioner Tony Badalamenti said.
No matter how many security cameras are in use, inappropriate dumping has long been a problem at drop-off sites across the county, Christian-Bennett and Steiner agreed.
Without receiving an answer, Badalamenti wondered why such dumping is not evident in Geauga County, where he frequently drives.
“For some reason, in the 14 years I’ve been here, it’s progressively gotten worse,” Steiner said, recalling an incident in Freedom Township where someone was dumping car parts right outside the Town Hall while trustees were meeting. Freedom trustees ultimately closed their township’s drop-off site.
Similar incidents of people dumping sofas, TVs and paint have happened throughout the county, the commissioners agreed. Township trustees have responded by simply closing the central drop-off locations, leaving residents with few eco-conscious options.
“That just tells you what we’re dealing with,” Christian-Bennett said as the commissioners wondered how to get through to residents what is recyclable, what is not, and where.
“I think you can spend thousands and thousands of dollars, but there’s still going to be that segment that’s just gonna say, ‘Not for me,’ and just feel that we should recycle their mattress,” Steiner said.