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Cardboard to be included in Richmond’s expanded recycling program

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Bales of plastic bottles collected by the Richmond Sanitary District wait to be recycled. (Photo: Jason Truitt/Palladium-Item)

RICHMOND, Ind. — As more and more shopping moves online, cardboard is making up an increasing percentage of our trash. Call it “the Amazon effect,” according to Pat Smoker, interim director of the Richmond Sanitary District.

All of that cardboard has the potential for shortening the lifespan of the New Paris Pike Landfill, so city officials would rather see it recycled instead.

Now, thanks to a state grant, the city is making plans for a pilot program that’ll help do just that starting around mid-year 2021.

The Richmond Sanitary District has been awarded a $220,000 matching grant from the Indiana Department of Environmental Management to start a curbside recycling program for cardboard. The sanitary district also is pitching in $220,000 to get everything up and running.

That money will purchase a new recycling truck and 2,000 containers. Officials plan to solicit bids for the vehicle in January with the hopes of having it by the summer.

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IDEM’s Recycling Market Development Program awarded $1 million in grants to eight organizations across the state for various projects.

Businesses, local governments, schools and nonprofits in Indiana are eligible to apply for funding of between $10,000 and $500,000 with a 50% required match.

“This grant funding provides our community a great opportunity to expand our recycling efforts,” State Rep. Brad Barrett (R-Richmond) said in a statement. “We can reduce hundreds of tons of waste each year, leading to a healthier environment for Richmond.”

More information will be sent to the public in the spring so signups for the new cardboard program can begin.

“Hopefully late summer, early fall is when we’ll start running routes for this,” Smoker said.

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Stacks of Richie Rollers, the city of Richmond’s recycling containers, sit on the grounds of the Richmond Sanitary District. (Photo: Jason Truitt/Palladium-Item)

Currently, the Sanitary District collects about 150 tons of cardboard through special pickups or in a designated bin at the landfill, but the belief is that number can be doubled through the new program.

“We believe from the studies we’ve run that we can get up to 300 tons,” Smoker said.

Like the city’s current recycling program for some plastics (Nos. 1 and 2), aluminum cans and glass bottles and jars, this expansion will be free of charge to residential customers of the Sanitary District.

“Once we get this up and going, we may look at using roll-offs for businesses (to collect more cardboard),” Smoker said.

The new containers will hold the same amount of gallons as the city’s green Rosie Rollers but come in a different shape that’s easier for cardboard storage. The new truck will be specific for the new containers.

Once collected, the cardboard will be sorted and baled to then be sold to vendors by the semi load.

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“This corrugated cardboard is in high demand,” Smoker said. But “you don’t get rich off a recycling program. You’re lucky if you break even.”

The main goal is to ensure that the landfill’s current lifespan — estimated to be in the ballpark of 50 years — isn’t curtailed.

“It just makes it easier to build this program, especially since we think cardboard is going to be more and more prevalent,” Smoker said.

The Sanitary District’s current recycling program has an overall participation rate of about 84%, according to Smoker. Anyone who doesn’t already have one of the special, blue Richie Rollers can call 765-983-7450 to get one.

Promotion of recycling in the city has been sparse, but there are plans in the works to change that.

“It’s minimal right now, but we’re looking to ramp up the overall social media presence of the Sanitary District — not just about recycling but overall — to better inform everyone about the trash collection system,” Smoker said.

Jason Truitt is the team leader and senior reporter at the Palladium-Item. Contact him at 765-973-4459 or jtruitt@pal-item.com.

Read or Share this story: https://www.pal-item.com/story/news/local/2020/11/22/richmond-recycling-pick-up-expansion-cardboard/6354012002/



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