By Linda Dillman
Three environmentally aware seniors from Canal Winchester High School want to bring back an active recycling program to the city.
Abigail Hall, Bryce Palmer and Austin Keyse asked Canal Winchester City Council to consider a program they are proposing to hold regular community collection days at convenient school sites.
“We’ve been stigmatized as a generation that doesn’t care,” said Hall. “We want to change that perception.”
Palmer noticed the amount of trash that goes to a landfill with and without recycling and called the situation “atrocious.” Keyse, who is in an environmental science class along with Palmer and Hall, wants to bring recycling back to the community in an effort to help the environment.
“Although 75 percent of American waste is recyclable, only 30 percent of it actually is recycled,” Keyse said. “We want less waste pollution in Canal Winchester. It takes 500 years for a plastic water bottle to decompose. Sixty percent of material buried in a landfill could be recycled.”
Palmer said, not only can recycling contribute to a healthier community, an active recycling program can pay for itself within a few years and has the potential to bring money into Canal Winchester.
The students held discussions with elementary school principals regarding the use of school parking lots as collection sites with the help of Waste Management and/or the Solid Waste Authority of Central Ohio.
“Our plan is to set up bi-weekly community clean-up days with volunteers,” said Palmer. “We need to get SWACO or Waste Management to bring in recycling bins. SWACO offers paper foldables we can hand out on recycling days and we can tweak that (information on what is recyclable) to what we want to take in.”
Council President Bruce Jarvis suggested the students first work with Waste Management and then look to a different entity if the company is unable or unwilling to participate.
Public Service Director Matt Peoples said he had a preliminary discussion with Waste Management and that they are willing to sit down and talk with the students.
Hall wants to communicate with people and educate the community as to what can be recycled. She said the community is the best way to start small, but also have a big impact.
Jarvis said council is also frustrated on how to create a viable recycling program and, in conjunction with the students, will continue to keep pushing things forward.
“They’ve (Hall, Palmer and Keyse) done a ton of research and I’m very proud of them,” said Councilwoman Jill Amos. “This started out as a school project and they went from there. They reached out to Bruce (Jarvis), talked with the superintendent and they’ve come to the community coffees.”
Last year, Waste Management notified the city it was assessing a contamination charge of up to $69 per yard depending on the size of the container for excessive non-recyclable material (Hot Loads) found in community recycling bins in a parking lot near Stradley Park.
The city paid for standard recycling, but the new fees—if each container was deemed a Hot Load—would add over $22,000 to the weekly bill.
In addition, city crews were routinely dispatched to pick up the excessive overflow surrounding the bins dumped there by residents and businesses. The city was able to recover addressee information from some boxes and dispatched deputies to the properties to inform people they could be fined for littering.
The city recycling service ended last June 20 and all of the bins were removed.