PORTAGE — Residents have room for improvement when it comes to sorting their trash.
The city’s Streets and Sanitation Department picked up 780 tons of recyclables in January, but that’s diverting only about 22.3% of the material that otherwise would go to landfills, Superintendent Randy Reeder told the City Council recently.
Factor in electronics, limbs, leaves and other material picked up in special collections, and the city’s overall diversion rate rises to about 40%.
In 2019, there were 13,239 tons of solid waste destined for landfills and 8,540 tons diverted, Reeder said.
“Landfill costs are over $55 per ton now,” Mayor Sue Lynch said, so the city paid about $58,000 in January alone to send solid waste to landfills. That’s about $700,000 a year.
As old landfills fill up and close, newer landfills are opening farther away. That increases hauling costs.
At the same time, sloppy habits can contaminate an entire load of waste intended to be recycled.
Rinse cans and jugs before tossing them in the recycling bin, Reeder advised.
“Republic Services is really cracking down on dirty recycling,” he said.
“The numbers of recycling need to get better to save us,” Lynch said.