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Task force shares landfill rates

Residents throw away 4.4 pounds per person per day

DeKALB – Christel Springmire shared information a DeKalb County task force knew would be important for getting people to understand their role in reducing waste. 

Springmire, county health department solid waste coordinator, showed members of the Zero Waste Task Force the landfill rate in the county from 2005 to 2012. The rate shows the pounds of waste produced by a single person in a day in the county. 

While the rate had not shifted significantly since 2005, the landfill rate last year was 4.4 pounds per person per day. 

“In my view if we’re going to look at zero waste principles, we need to figure out a way to get our residents to understand right now you’re throwing away over four pounds per person per day,” she said. 

Several people of the 13-member task force agreed. The task force, which met for the second time Thursday, was created by the DeKalb County Board on Oct. 16 to explore the possibility of using a zero waste policy as a guiding principle of the county’s solid waste management plan. The aim of zero waste is to reduce landfill waste through reuse along with recycling. 

After the meeting, Springmire said she thinks the recycling rate is a more arbitrary figure than the landfill rate because the reporting is not as good. The landfill rate would be a true reflection of how close the county is to achieving zero waste guidelines, she said. 

Waste Management representative Mike Hey agreed the landfill rate could serve as a score card for tracking the success of zero waste measures. It would also help residents understand their role in producing waste, he said. 

The next question for task force members was how to get county residents to learn of the landfill rate and understand the importance of reducing waste.

Task force member Jerry Smith suggested the creation of a public information officer for zero waste, alongside spreading the word through local news outlets. County Board member Marc Johnson, D-Sycamore, also suggested promotion through public events such as Corn Fest.

“What gets measured gets improved,” said Steve Challgren, Ideal Industries representative. “But the other piece of that has to be what’s in it for me. You have to emphasize why that is important for them to do.”

Hey stressed the need to make alternate methods to throwing away trash and recyclables convenient for people. Some businesses such as Walmart and Hostess do their part to reduce waste in their product packages. But the average person is becoming busier. 

“Convenience trumps everything in our society now,” Hey said. 

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