The Daily Globe - Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

Solid waste authority scales back recycling program


Richard Jenkins/Daily Globe

Gogebic Range Solid Waste Management Authority board members Jeff Randall, left, and Richard Bouvette survey commingled recycled goods Thursday at the authority's transfer station. The commingling, or mixing, of items requires sorting and makes it harder for the authority to continuing recycling. Following the tour, the authority board voted to make its public dumpsters "paper only," in an effort to reduce commingling.


Ironwood - The Gogebic Range Solid Waste Management Authority is restricting what can be recycled in its dumpsters available for residents of member municipalities to use, transitioning to them becoming "paper only" as of June 1.

The move, approved at the authority's board meeting Monday on a three-month trial basis, comes in response to the frequent inclusion of non-recyclable garbage in the dumpsters.

Authority Administrator Chris Ann Bressette said everything from mattresses and televisions to vacuum cleaners have been left in the recycling dumpsters.

If the problem continues, the authority board was generally in consensus the dumpsters should be removed all together, even though many people are likely using them correctly.

"I think that's the message that needs to go out to the public," said board chairman Jeff Randall. "It's these few that are spoiling it for everybody."

While the dumpsters will be limited to only paper, Bressette said residents can still bring other recyclable items to the authority's transfer station on U.S. 2.

The inclusion of non-recyclable items makes it difficult for the transfer station to deal with those who are recycling properly, Bressette told the Daily Globe after the meeting. She said even if someone were to recycle a bag of papers properly, by the time the dumpster is tipped into a garbage truck and the truck's load is dumped into the recycling building, those papers are spread all over and mixed with everything else - including the non-recyclable items - and man-hours have to be spent re-sorting it.

Prior to the authority's adoption of the dumpsters in the last year or two, residents had to drop off pre-sorted recycling at the transfer station - something Bressette said worked really smoothly, as it prevented the items from being mixed together, or "commingled," at the transfer station.

Adding to the problem, Bressette said, was the fact the authority had been using Gogebic County Jail inmates to sort the recycling.

She praised them for the work they have been doing, but said the workers aren't as available in the summer as they are needed elsewhere in the county.

"They do parks and (county jobs), so they're not as available in the summer," Bressette said. "They've done an excellent job. I can praise them up and down, because they've really worked hard."

She added the problem of co-mingling is something every company dealing with recycling is faced with.


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