Recycling efforts in Mahoning County undermined by well-meaning customers

 Recycling is free in Mahoning County. Customers can choose to have items picked up curbside or they can be taken to several drop-off locations around the county

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – Recycling is free in Mahoning County. Customers can choose to have items picked up curbside or they can be taken to several drop-off locations around the county. The program has been around for more than 25 years, but the hurdle for the recycling team, and one that is growing larger, is that customers put the wrong items in their bins.

Misplaced items end up costing the recycling organization money. Kim Lewis, environmental educator, said she knows people want to do good when they recycle, but sometimes their efforts end up causing harm.

“When materials aren’t prepared properly at the source, they end up at the material recovery facility for processing and problems arise,” Lewis said.

Mahoning County’s recycling program is specific. It can’t take all items that are marked recyclable. The facility isn’t prepared to handle all of those items such as things like plastic bags.

“It says recyclable, but not in our program. When this ends up at the processing site, it gets wrapped around the machinery and clogs everything up,” Lewis said.

Other problems include Styrofoam, certain types of plastic, and things that have leftover food or grease on them.

“Pizza boxes normally have a greasy residue on them, so you can’t put that in the bin. If it doesn’t have a greasy residue, then you might want to reexamine that,” Lewis said.

It’s important to know what you can and can’t recycle. Sending the wrong items costs the program money. They wind up wasting resources sorting or fixing the damage caused by contamination.

“We can reduce contamination at the source and lower out costs because I think there is something better we can do with that money than address contamination issues,” Lewis said.

Recycling bins are clearly marked with information on what items are accepted. More information about what items are accepted and drop off locations can found on the Mahoning County Green Team website.