In late February the Town of Windsor re-opened its sorted materials recycling center in a new location, hoping the relocation would negate previous misuse of the facility as a dumping ground for recyclable and non-recyclable material. The service was relocated adjacent to the Public Works facility, 922 N. 15th St., anticipating that being closer to staff offices would result in less misuse. What Town of Windsor officials are finding, however, is that the site continues to be misused, resulting in high operational costs.
“Windsor’s recycling program was meant to support residential curbside recycling efforts, not replace it,” says Parks, Recreation and Culture Director Eric Lucas. “However, we’re seeing people coming from other communities to use Windsor’s recycling center, residents who aren’t subscribing to curbside services, and those who are simply misusing the site to dump non-recyclable items that don’t fit in with curbside trash.”
For those reasons, the Town of Windsor will require proof of residency to use the site starting Wednesday, April 3, and a gate attendant will monitor the site’s use. Residents will be asked to show either a driver’s license or Windsor utility bill. For now, the town won’t require use of a special permit.
In some instances, the site’s misuse appears unintentional. Last weekend several plastic pools were dropped off next to the commingle recycling bin that accepts plastics with a #1-7 on them. The problem being that not all plastics are recyclable and the plastic pools didn’t have a recycling number on them. In the end, they had to be taken to the landfill.
Each bin at Windsor’s recycling center states what can and cannot be included in each container. Regardless, people continue to drop items that don’t belong in the bin. Referred to in the recycling industry as “contaminates”, items that make their way into recycling bins can cause big problems for municipal recycling programs. Each time contaminate is added to a recycling bin, it often ends up taking a needless trip to the recycling center only to take another trip to the landfill—which is more costly and impactful on the environment and on cost to the town.
“Part of our efforts will also include educating residents on what can and cannot be included in our recycling bins,” says Lucas. “Sometimes it’s well-intended recyclers who didn’t know that paper McDonald’s cups have a wax coating and aren’t recyclable with the town’s low-grade paper. Other times it’s residents with a few glass dishes who may think it’s better to include them with glass recycling than throw them out. Our glass recycling program only accepts glass bottles and jars used for food and beverages, not dishes.”
This isn’t the first time the recycling center has been misused. In early 2018, dumping at the town’s sorted materials recycling center resulted in a site closure and additional staff time that cost the town $20,000 to clean. The most recent misuse of the center has resulted in the town absorbing an additional $1,000 in weekly cost to continue operating the site.
For now, operating hours of the Town of Windsor’s recycling center remain Wednesday through Sunday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The site will be closed Mondays, Tuesdays and holidays. Proof of residency will be required and the service will remain free to residents. The site will not accept organic yard waste.
For more information about the Town of Windsor’s recycling program or visit windsorgov.com/recycling or call 970-674-2400.