November 23, 2014

Medina
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54°F

Committee: Don’t take the recycling facility out of Westfield

The committee created to study Medina County’s trash recycling program has recommended keeping the county’s Central Processing Facility in Westfield Township.

But whether the facility should continue to be operated by a private firm or taken over by the county remains a question.

“I definitely think keeping the Central Processing Facility makes some sense,” Medina County Commissioner Stephen D. Hambley said. “But I can see it’s going to require additional investment.

“I think the overall goal is increased recycling and keeping the cost down.”

The Medina County Solid Waste District Technical Advisory Committee was created because the county’s contract with Envision Waste of Cleveland to run the Central Processing Facility expires in January 2015 ,and the county’s solid waste plan approved by the state needs to be updated this year.

The committee studied several options presented by Westerville-based consulting company GT Environmental, and listened to the input of residents through a series of public hearings and online surveys.

The county’s $9 million Central Processing Facility in Westfield Township — the only one of its kind in the state — was built to comply with House Bill 592, passed in the late 1980s. That law requires that 90 percent of residents have access to recycling, and that 25 percent of residential waste and 50 percent total of residential and commercial waste be recycled.

Chris Easton, the committee’s chairman and Wadsworth city service director, stated in a press release that more studies are needed to determine whether the recycling facility should be taken over by the county.

Easton also said private operation would require the county to revisit the existing contract to see how it could reduce operating costs and increase revenue from recycling.

The recycling facility has been handling all solid waste since 1993. But some critics of the facility point to studies that found nearby communities with curbside recycling achieve a higher recycling rate.

Waste is delivered to the facility, where it is sorted and recyclables removed, along with organic materials, such as food and yard waste.

The facility also lets residents separate recyclables and deposit them in the appropriate containers at the facility or to deposit yard waste, both at no charge.

This process allows the county to meet the Ohio EPA’s recycling mandates, but not all recyclable material is recovered.
Officials want a better way.

Hambley said he would like to see improvements in all of the facility’s functions, noting that not enough material is recycled from the public drop-off points.

“If they’re going to drop it off and have it end up in a landfill, that’s not the way the system is supposed to run,” he said.

A number of options were under consideration to improve the county’s recycling plan, including:

• Renewing the contract with Envision with no change in the recycling program;

• Turning over the operation of the facility to the county;

• Switching to curbside recycling for most residents and drop-off stations in townships. The Central Processing Facility would handle only materials already determined to be recyclable.

The committee considered the reports from GT Environmental,, including an analysis on how the facility processes traditional recyclables such as paper, cardboard, metals, and plastics from the waste stream, noting that improvements could be made.

The recommendation was passed to the Solid Waste District’s policy committee, which will decide whether to operate the facility strictly under county control or to bid it out for private operation.

Envision’s contract provides that the company keep the first $780,000 it earns from the sale of recyclables. Any profits above that are split 50-50 with the county. Envision would have to submit a bid if it wants to keep running the facility.

The policy committee will meet at the facility at 2 p.m. Feb. 19.

Contact reporter Dan Pompili at (330) 721-4012 or dpompili@medina-gazette.com.