Monday, April 25, 2011
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Logan County Board hears the state of recycling in Logan County

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[April 25, 2011]  Mitzi Rohlfs, coordinator for the Logan County Joint Solid Waste Agency, came before the Logan County Board this month. She said she wished to provide board members, particularly new members, some background information on the agency.

Rohlfs started at the beginning, saying that it was in 1975 under Illinois Gov. Jim Edgar that the solid waste management and recycling act was signed into law.

The act made counties responsible for planning and implementing recycling programs.

A funding mechanism was put into place using population size in accordance with U.S. Census Bureau figures.

Currently, the county collects $3 per person per year to run the program. "Which, if you do the math, it comes out that it costs everybody in the county 25 cents per month to have a recycling program," Rohlfs said.

According to the most recent census figures, Logan County has had a decline of 897 residents, which will decrease the agency's budget by $2,691 a year.

The Logan County agency was formed in 1997 and began by providing recycling drop points all around the county. Bins are available for commingled plastics and metal, and for paper, in every town in Logan County excluding Lawndale and Latham. Latham is not a member of the agency.

In addition to materials collected from recycling bins, the agency also conducts special collections such as paper shredding, for which costs were underwritten by the State Bank of Lincoln, as well as electronics, appliance and glass collections each year.

According to Rohlfs, "the recycling market is a very volatile market to begin with." But with the recession, the recycling businesses took a hard hit. Manufacturing was down, and because there was not a need for the recycled materials, "the market fell off very sharply," she said. Prices have been up and down.

The county has a new electronics recycler, Vintage Tech from Romeoville. In April, 6 tons of electronics were collected from local government offices and schools. A public electronics collection in October netted 18.5 tons.

Seasonal glass collection, which is co-sponsored with the Lincoln Junior Woman's Club, Saint-Gobain Glass and the Logan County Fair Association, yielded 22 tons this year.

Another electronics collection with Vintage Tech has been set for Oct. 1, from 9 a.m. to noon, at the Logan County Fairgrounds. And, another fall personal document paper shredding will be scheduled, with the State Bank of Lincoln once again underwriting that program.

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Rohlfs said that Area Disposal had been providing curbside recycling free of charge to its Lincoln customers. They received funding through the Department of Commerce and Community Affairs. That program will no longer be offered.

Area Disposal notified its customers that effective July 1 there would be a $5 per month fee. Of the 486 participants, only 148 of those customers stayed with the curbside service. Rohlfs said, "We've seen the increase at the bins here in Lincoln."

The agency has its own transport truck, which actually resembles a garbage truck.

Dispelling some rumors, she said there have been a few, rare times when the agency truck has broken down and it has become necessary to ask Area Disposal to empty the overflowing containers and use their garbage truck to take materials to a dump.

Rohlfs said, "Ninety-eight percent of the materials collected do go on to be processed at a recycling plant."

Looking ahead, Rohlfs believes that the agency will see some rebates for some products, particularly paper, in the near future. However, the rebates will not be enough to offset other increasing costs, such as fuel to transport materials.

The agency's board is composed of representatives of every incorporated area of the county, with unincorporated areas represented by county board members. The board meets at 7 p.m. on the third Wednesday of every month at the Logan County Courthouse. Meetings are open to the public


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