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Just 29% recycle in 1st week

Staff writer

Recycling in Marion has officially begun, and the result is as expected — recyclers are a minority.

In the city’s first day of recycling pickup, refuse truck operator Rick Burcky’s tally had 235 homes set out recycling, while 575 homes either set out trash or didn’t set out anything at all.

Burcky’s crew covered the western half of Marion on Thursday and the eastern half Friday. The first recycling pickup brought in 2,000 pounds of material, making for 4,200 pounds when combined with the early morning commercial trash haul. Burcky said a normal Thursday pickup ranges from 10,000-12,000 pounds between commercial and residential.

“Every little bit helps,” he said when told the weight of the haul.

Burcky typically has one additional crew member, but had two, Scott Heidebrecht and Clayton Garnica, for the first recycling pickup. He attributed the extra help to people possibly putting out especially large loads in the first week, as well as recycling pickup being a new process.

Most who wanted to recycle did so successfully. Burcky said only “two or three” homes had either unrecyclable materials in with their recycling or had bagged recyclable materials, which goes against guidelines the city sent out to residents.

As for those who set out trash, Burcky said the city is making stickers to leave on receptacles informing them that Thursday-Friday pickups are designated for recycling.

“Those are still being made,” he said Thursday.

With results similar to Thursday’s run, Marion would recycle 120 tons in 2015 with its curbside program, netting $3,960 for the county, which handles transfer station costs and expenses. Were those 120 recycled tons to be thrown away as trash, they would cost the county approximately $4,320.

Burcky said he expects the tonnage to increase as residents get accustomed to the program.

“Once they realize how much they have to throw away, and how much could be recycled, I think more people will do it,” he said.

Shredded paper was common among the recycled items, and Burcky said it shouldn’t have been recycled. Burcky’s crew accepted shredded paper in the recycling pit, but Transfer Station Director Rollin Schmidt said the processing plant in Hutchinson doesn’t accept shredded paper because it gets caught in the machines.

Crews separated what they could of the shredded paper at the transfer station.

A list of guidelines the city disseminated in advance of the recycling pickups listed office paper as recyclable and did not list shredded paper as non-recyclable.

Schmidt said those with shredded paper should put it in with the trash.

After the first week’s recycling pickups, Marion took to social media to thank those that recycled and clear up some issues in the city’s first week with recycling.

The post said individuals wishing to keep cardboard boxes they set recycling in should label the boxes clearly.

“Sorry, we processed a few to recycling we weren’t supposed to,” the post read.

It also warned to put a lid “of some type” on the recycle container to keep recyclables from being blown out of containers by wind.

It emphasized that the process isn’t strictly “curbside” recycling, saying recycling should be put out exactly where trash is. Accordingly, the city will no longer refer to the program as “curbside” recycling.

The post also said the city’s goal is to get poundage over 10,000 within four weeks, a prospect that would require more than a doubling of residents’ initial efforts.

Last modified Jan. 15, 2015

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