June 26, 2016

Intermittent clouds

Top of the heap

WESTFIELD TWP. — A new solid waste management plan announced by the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency earlier this month renews the agency’s 2001 goal to have half the trash in the state recycled annually.

The Ohio EPA reported the state recycled about 41 percent of its trash in 2007, missing the goal by about 9 percent.

Officials with the Medina County Sanitary Engineers Office say meeting the Ohio EPA’s goal in Medina hasn’t been a problem in the past and shouldn’t be in the future because of the county’s Central Processing Facility. Almost all the trash produced in Medina County is delivered to the facility, where a system of machines and workers sort it and separate the recyclables.

a1mg_clr5colcpf1mkWorkers in the Medina County Central Processing Facility’s first sorting room take recyclable materials out of the trash moving on a conveyor belt Thursday. (Maria Kacik / The Gazette)

The Ohio EPA reported that in 2007 the county recycled a higher percentage of trash than 28 of the state’s 52 solid waste management districts. In 2001, it recycled more than 47 districts. Some solid waste districts are comprised of more than one county, but Medina County stands alone.

“We have a very, very, very unique program on recycling,” said William Strazinsky, coordinator of the Medina County Solid Waste Management District.

Last year, about 21 percent of all the trash delivered to the facility was recycled. The plant also took in and composted 23,894 cubic yards of yard waste, which means 32 percent of all the county’s residential and commercial waste was recycled last year.

The Ohio EPA plan asks the districts to recycle 25 percent of residential and commercial waste and 66 percent of industrial waste.

The numbers for industrial waste recycled in 2008 and ’09 aren’t yet available, but the Ohio EPA said Medina County recycled about 73 percent in 2007. Strazinsky said there are a lot of heavier materials like metals that industries can reuse and count as recycled.

He said among commercial, industrial and residential waste, the county recycled about 52 percent of waste in 2007.

Strazinsky said the county’s Solid Waste Management District is sometimes ranked among the top recyclers in the state because every household and business in the county automatically participates in recycling.

“I call it the ‘gotcha covered plan.’ If you live in Medina County and you don’t want to recycle, don’t worry about it. Your trash comes here and we’re going to pull out your recyclables whether you want it or not,” Strazinsky said.

Medina County Commissioner Stephen Hambley, who acts as the liaison to the Sanitary Engineers Office, said the CPF ensures residents are recycling.

“We treat (trash) comprehensively,” he said. “Since we don’t have a landfill in this county, it means we’re reliant on sending our solid waste to another county. We’re taking responsibility for our garbage.”

The county sends its solid waste to a landfill in Mahoning County.

County Sanitary Engineer Jim Troike said some people have expressed concerns about the system because it doesn’t encourage individuals to play a role in recycling. But he said in the early 1990s when the county was developing a plan for solid waste management, it visited solid waste management districts throughout the country to find the best model for Medina.

“Medina County is a rural county. … If you try to do curbside recycling, you have all those trucks running down the side roads. It’s kind of a waste,” he said.

Contact Maria Kacik at (330) 721-4049 or mkacik@medina-gazette.com.