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New Monroe County Recycling Facility Plans Still Uncertain

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The citizens advisory committee to the Monroe County Solid Waste Management District discussed plans last week for supporting a new recycling facility. The District’s Board of Directors has been split on the issue of whether to build a materials recovery facility, or MRF, to process recyclables.

But the advisory committee has supported the initiative, going so far as to form a separate working group for the project.

Stephen Hale, a member of the committee, will be leading the group.

“I really kind of see this group as getting up to speed and finding the history of past discussions with MRFs in the district,” Hale said, “When you change something in the system, a lot of things get impacted by those changes and finding where the potential impacts and connections are is a pretty good next step.”

Larry Barker, executive director of the District, told the committee that a bill working its way through the Indiana Statehouse could make the MRF project even more significant.

“This lays out some serious guidelines on how we will be recycling in the future,” Barker said, “One of the goals that the administration has is recycling 50% of the waste stream by 2019. Right now there is about 6.7 million tons of municipal solid waste going to landfills. That’s pulling out about 3.3 million tons of recycling. This is dramatic.”

Toward the end of the meeting, Hale asked Barker what he thought the group should do to support the MRF.

“We have to come up with some sort of outreach program that gets the community aware of what’s coming forward,” Barker said, “The last thing you want to do is spring something on the community when they aren’t aware of it.”

At a meeting in December, the District’s Board approved spending $42,000 to further explore the possibility of building a MRF.

But some board members objected to spending the money, and others have questioned the long-term feasibility of the project.

Best of 2013 #5 – Neighbors Clash Over Trash: The Fight Over A Downtown Garbage Station

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Issues surrounding trash and recycling were in the news all year long during 2013. Early this year the local solid waste district expanded its services for rural customers. Then, over the summer, a business that accepted recyclables in downtown Bloomington was forced to close due to financial troubles. And in recent months there has been debate over whether the solid waste district should build a materials recovery facility that would process and sell the waste residents throw away. But none of those issues drew as much attention and controversy as a plan to build a new trash transfer station in a residential neighborhood on the west side of Bloomington. An application to build the station at JB Salvage on West Vernal Pike was filed late in 2012, but the plans weren’t publicly discussed until early this year.

CREDITS
The best of 2013 is a production of the WFHB news department.
Today’s episode was produced by Joe Crawford.
Our theme music is provided by Legs
Executive producer is Alycin Bektesh

City Residents Lobby for Recycling Facility

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A City Council discussion yesterday about next year’s budget for the city of Bloomington turned into a forum of support for a major recycling project.

When the council asked for comment on the budget, five members of the public spoke in favor of building a materials recovery facility, or a MRF. A MRF would process recyclables locally, theoretically allowing local government entities to make money

Carrie Winkel told the council that operating a MRF would be better than the city’s current arrangement, which involves paying the company Republic Services to haul off recyclables

The council would not be directly responsible for the construction of a MRF. That responsibility would fall to the Monroe County Solid Waste Management District, which has considered different versions of the project in recent years.

None of those proposals have been approved. Speaker Sarah Ryterband said the city needs to use its leverage to lobby for the facility.

The discussion occurred as the council considered next year’s budget, which includes the spending of $1.4 million of city money on trash collection.

While some have said the city’s sanitation department is running a deficit because it spends more than it brings in from trash sticker sales, Council Member Marty Spechler said that’s the wrong way to think about the issue.

The cost of trash collection is going up, in part because Republic Services just announced it is increasing its rates. Council Member Steve Volan, who is also the president of the Solid Waste District’s Board of Directors, said building a MRF could help with those costs

The council did not hold a vote on any matter directly related to a MRF, though Volan said he may soon put forward a resolution supporting the project. The council voted unanimously to approve the 2014 budget.

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