Carroll County staff reduced recycling contamination by 11% in a matter of months and the change is estimated to save the government more than $100,000, according to county staff.
The Board of Commissioners recognized Maria Myers, recycling manager, and Dwight Amoss, landfill manager, for the steps they took to tackle what was a 21% contamination rate, according to Jeff Castonguay, director of Public Works. The national average is 25%, he said.
Contamination refers to waste put into recycling that is not recyclable, such as plastic bags, Styrofoam, and garden hoses, according to Castonguay.
“This is an issue happening not just here in our state, but it’s happening nationally," Castonguay said.
He pointed to growing recycling costs and the declining recycling market as causes.
Myers and Amoss teamed up to educate the public by sending out notices, speaking to citizens by phone, communicating with waste haulers, and personally rejecting dump trucks that brought in loads with too many non-recyclable materials, Castonguay said.
In a matter of months, Carroll’s contamination rate dropped to 10.5%, he said.
Eric Burdine, deputy director of Public Works, estimates the work of Myers and Amoss will save the county about $104,000 annually in recycling processing costs.
Myers has been with the county 11 years, while Amoss’s career spans 41 years, they said. Commissioner Stephen Wantz, R-District 1, and the other commissioners thanked them for their work at the commissioners’ meeting on Jan. 9.
“You guys are sort of behind the scenes and one of the great things about our county is there are amazing things that go on behind the scenes and you two are perfect examples of those great things that do occur," Wantz said.
The commissioners presented Amoss and Myers with certificates of appreciation.
According to the county website, acceptable items for recycling include:
Aluminum, tin and steel cans, containers and foil;
Plastic bags are no longer accepted for recycling, but many chain grocery stores have bins to collect them, according to the county website. Items that should not be put in recycling include: electronics, ceramics, dishes, food waste, motor oil containers, batteries, No. 6 plastic, household hazardous waste, yard waste, light bulbs, window glass, and mirrors.