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Annual recycling, waste rates increase

Published: Saturday, March 31, 2012 5:30 a.m. CDT

Annual reports for waste disposal and recycling show rates have increased in the county, which local officials say is a positive economic sign.

DeKalb County’s recycling rate increased from 44 percent in 2010 to 53 percent last year, with overall tonnage increasing from 37,771 to 48,018. Material from construction and demolition projects accounted for 19 percent of overall waste recycled, which also is a good economic indicator, Christel Springmire said.

Springmire, solid waste coordinator with the DeKalb County Health Department, said it is the highest rate for the county since 2007.

“It really mirrors what the economy is doing,” Springmire said. “When [the rate] increases that is usually a sign the economy is headed upward.”

While the higher rate could be a sign of increased consumption, the county also has made it easier to recycle certain items. Through special events, the county collected roughly 3 tons of batteries, 27 tons of paint and 21 tons of used motor oil and antifreeze for recycling.

Springmire said a surprise event was the holiday lights collection, which resulted in 1.1 tons of recycled holiday lights. She said it would not affect the recycling rate, but it still is 1.1 tons of material that will stay out of the landfill.

The two electronic recycling drives brought in more than 55 tons of material, but Springmire said the recent law requiring most electronics to be recycled makes it impossible for the county to serve everyone.

“I’m never going to be able to serve everybody’s needs with these kind of collections,” she said. “But groups are getting involved so it should get better.”

The next electronics collection is April 14, starting at 8:30 a.m. at the DeKalb County Health Department’s parking lot, 2550 N. Annie Glidden Road in DeKalb. The county also has a rural recycling site in Kingston, which collects about 1,500 pounds a week, and is set to open one in Somonauk by late May or early June.

Waste Management also provided an annual update as part of its license renewal process with the county.

Mike Hey, district manager for Waste Management, said waste received at the landfill in Cortland increased from 76,798 tons in 2010 to 77,400 tons last year. To get closer to the 300 tons per day permitted, the landfill collected 12,011 tons of waste from outside the county, roughly 15.5 percent of the total. Most of the outside waste came from Kane County.

Total tipping fee revenue came in at $92,388.

Hey said the 56 gas extraction wells collected 1,050 cubic feet of gas per minute, but it still is not enough to make converting the gas into energy economically viable so the gas is destroyed. If the proposed landfill expansion occurs, Hey said enough waste would be received to make the gas-to-energy process work for the company.

“We want to use it as fuel, that’s what we’re all about,” he said. “With future expansion, we would have the volume to use the gas as energy.”

The landfill will develop its last existing cell in hopes it will be available by the fall, Hey said, adding the site has about 6½ years before reaching capacity. The site also is in a pilot program for composting food waste.

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