Dayton getting tough on trash in recycling bins


Bales of crushed aluminum cans at Rumpke. CONTRIBUTED

Dayton contracts with Rumpke for its recycling. .

Rumpke’s crews will not empty blue recycling bins if they have materials inside that do not belong, Stovall said. The crews may discover contamination issues by glancing inside the containers or from their weight, he said.

Rumpke accepts paper and cardboard, glass bottles and jars, cartons, plastic bottles and jugs, and metal cans.

The first time a container is contaminated with trash or the wrong items, the owner will receive an “oops” letter in the mail from the city and information about how to correct the violation. Contaminated containers will be emptied by garbage crews.

If crews discover the same recycling bin is contaminated again, they will slap an “oops” sticker on the lid and the owner will receive a second “oops” warning postcard in the mail, the city said.

The city of Dayton will issue “oops” warnings to households that put the wrong items in the recycling bins. CONTRIBUTED

If it happens a third time, the city will repossess the container and suspend recycling services at that address for one year.

Many things show up in recycling collection bins that shouldn’t, like batteries, cell phones, tablets, computers, power drills and some plastics, said Gayane Makaryan, corporate communications manager for Rumpke.

Rumpke can recycle “blown-mold” plastics, which tend to have a wider base than the neck, such as bottles, jugs, shampoo bottles and non-toxic cleaning containers, she said. But the company can’t accept other plastic items, like action figures.

Here’s what can and cannot be recycled at Rumpke. CONTRIBUTED

Other items commonly found in blue bins that don’t belong include plastic bags, clothing, bed sheets and fabrics, Makaryan said. Plastic bags often can be recycled at the stores where they came from, and some businesses accept and recycle batteries and electronics.

Some Rumpke customers also incorrectly put food like pumpkins in recycling bins, especially around the holidays, Makaryan said.

“The problem is people think, ‘I can’t put this in the trash, so it must be recyclable,’” she said. “Well, no, they’re not.”

Makaryan said she doesn’t know of any other Ohio communities that use a penalty system like Dayton’s, where after three strikes their service is suspended.

Contaminated materials can get stuck in recycling-sorting machines. When that happens, workers have to manually remove the items, which can be time-consuming and labor intensive.

Some nonrecyclable items, like batteries, are dangerous because they can start fires.

This is the process Rumpke uses for recycling. CONTRIBUTED

Dayton’s recycling costs have risen, which in part is linked to trash and nonrecyclable items showing up in the recycling waste stream, Dayton City Manager Shelley Dickstein said earlier this year.

Public works is trying to step up efforts to educate citizens about what is and isn’t recyclable, Dickstein said, and the city is trying to come up with creative ways to increase recycling participation, which is low.

More than 34,600 Dayton households have recycling bins, which is up 44% from 2012, according to city data. But the city has more than 55,000 households, and through the third quarter of 2019, recyclables accounted for about 8% of all waste collected in the city.

A Rumpke worker moves bales of cardboard. CONTRIBUTED

Dayton now pays $35 per ton to dispose of recycling. Previously, the city paid $20 per ton. Several years ago, it cost half that amount.

What Rumpke says can be recycled

  • Glass bottles and jars (all colors)
  • Metal cans: Aluminum cans, steel cans and lids, empty aerosol cans with the lids and tips removed
  • Plastic bottles (empty, crush, reattach lid): Bottles and jugs that have a small mouth and wider base, such as milk jugs, soda bottles, laundry detergent bottles, water bottles, shampoo bottles and contact solution bottles
  • Paper: newspaper, magazines, cardboard, mixed office paper and envelopes, paperboard (cereal boxes), pizza boxes free of food debris and grease, telephone books and catalogs
  • Cartons: food and beverage cartons, such as milk, juice, soup, wine, broth and other cartons.

Recycling Tips

  • Mix all items together – no separation required
  • Empty all bottles, jugs and cans
  • No need to remove labels
  • For plastic bottles, empty, crush and reattach lids
  • For cartons, remove plastic caps and straws
  • Never place medical sharps or needles in the recycling
  • Don’t use plastic bags

NOT for Recycling

No plastic bags, cassette tapes, bed sheets, hangers, metal chains, garden hoses, batteries, needles, syringes, electronics, polystyrene foam, buckets, butter tubs, car parts, food, yard waste, light bulbs, drinking glasses, ceramics, pots, pans and scrap metal.

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