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Clearing up confusion about recycling in the county

12/13/2016 09:27AM ● Published by J. Chambless

The recycling bins at Franklin Township's municipal building are clearly marked for what is allowed and what is not. Here, an employee of the Borderland Vineyard recycles cardboard at the site.

By John Chambless
Staff Writer

The large recycling bins in Frankln Township, behind the Kemblesville Post Office, are a convenient place to keep recyclables out of the landfill and help the environment. But township Board of Supervisors chairman John Auerbach has seen too many instances of people dropping trash, construction debris and other non-recyclables in or near the bins and driving away. That leaves the township with the responsibility of properly disposing of the items.

“Dumping trash and unneeded material jeopardizes the recycle facility,” Auerbach said this week. “Recently, we have had a number incidents where residents have deposited trash at the facility. Fortunately, the material was dumped on the ground and not in the bins. If it gets in the bins, that will be cause for SECCRA [Southeastern Chester County Refuse Authority] to remove the bins. People need to understand that re-use of the collected material is a business, and there is a business entity who will pay for this material because there is a profit in the venture. If we dilute the recycle material with trash, we will eventually devalue the recycled material to a point it will not be economically salable.

“Dumping the material on the ground adjacent to the bins avoids the problem with SECCRA, but creates major problem for the township,” Auerbach added. “The township is not equipped to manage trash, so what happens? The township needs to pay our road contractor to collect the trash and take it to the landfill, diverting his attention away from his core function of reconstructing roads. Each incident cost the township – all residents -- $500 to $600.”

The township gets a recycling award of several thousand dollars each year, organized by recycling coordinator Jack Nystrom, because of the recyclable materials collected at the recycling center. But the repeated dumping of trash is jeopardizing that award, and may result in the removal of the bins. If that happens, residents will lose the convenience and the township will have to spend tax dollars on services that are currently free.

“Dumping trash has significantly increased lately,” Auerbach said. “On one occasion, someone dumped some glass shower doors. I managed this one myself, at no cost to the township. Several weeks ago, someone dumped plastic chairs, baby furniture and window frames. We paid our contractor to clean that up. We had a problem last week with someone dropping off broken wooden furniture at the recycling bins and even putting some inside the bins.”

Residents can drop off newspaper, cardboard and recyclables that are numbered 1 through 7. Trash and recycling collection in Franklin Township is privately contracted through Allied Waste in West Grove, Penn Container in Landenberg, and other firms. If a service picks up both trash and recyclables, customers can ask how the recyclables are handled.

Using the single-stream method, residents can combine recyclables in one container, which are then processed at a Materials Recovery Facility, such as the SECCRA recycling center, located on Route 926 in the Chatham area.

The large landfill facility near Chatham weighs large incoming loads of recyclables from residents and businesses.

 On its website, SECCRA posts information about what is accepted and what is not.

“While it may be frustrating that some of the items you may have, such as 5-gallon buckets and other materials, may have a recycling symbol on them, or you know that they are made of materials that can be recycled, like aluminum siding, we can only accept items that are on this list,” the website reads.

What is included?

Paper: paperboard boxes (please flatten), corrugated cardboard (please flatten), paper bags, cartons, newspaper, brochures, inserts, junk mail, catalogs, magazines, file folders, office papers, phone books, paperback books (no need to remove paper clips, stamps, address labels, staples, metal fasteners, cellophane address windows, rubber bands, spiral bindings, plastic tabs)

Aluminum and steel cans: food cans, soda cans, loose lids, caps (emptied and rinsed)

Glass: jars and bottles

Plastics: food and beverage containers, numbered 1, 2, 4, 5, 7

What cannot be recycled?

No plastic bags

No recyclables in plastic bags

No scrap metal

No VHS tapes

No window panes, mirrors, ceramics or Pyrex dishware

No stickers or address label sheet waste

No plastics other than those listed

No electronic waste (batteries, cell phones, computers)

No paint, pesticides, oil and cleansers

No motor oil or antifreeze containers

No organic material and food waste

No waxed paper or waxed cardboard

No styrofoam or paper to-go containers

No plastic cups

No hardcover books


At the landfill gate, residents can recycle used motor oil, needles and other household materials for free.

 While driving recyclables to the SECCRA site can be a big job, the center makes it as easy as possible. Only waste from the following areas is permitted: Avondale Borough, East Marlborough Township, East Nottingham Township, Elk Township, Franklin Township, Highland Township, Kennett Square Borough, Kennett Township, London Britain Township, London Grove Township, Londonderry Township, Lower Oxford Township, New Garden Township, New London Township, Newlin Township, Oxford Borough, Parkesburg Borough, Penn Township, Pennsbury Township, Pocopson Township, Upper Oxford Township, West Grove Borough, West Marlborough Township and West Nottingham Township. Once the single-stream materials are collected by SECCRA, they are taken to either an Intermediate Processing Facility (IPC), where it is loaded into tractor-trailers, or directly to a MRF. The MRF uses a system of sorting mechanisms (both machines and people), which divides the recyclables into different categories. Once the recyclables have been separatedF, they are then sent out to the different "markets," where the actual recycling of the material happens.

Customers can be confused about why some items are accepted for recycling and others are not, which may contribute to the problem of simply dumping materials at the collection bins and hoping for the best.

“Not everything has a market,” the SECCRA site reads. “Recycling is a business. Is there a demand by a manufacturer for a particular material? Are they willing to pay for it? Of course, what often drives the manufacturer's demand for a material type is the consumer's demand for the end product. By buying products containing recycled materials, we 'close the loop.' When the loop is closed, markets are developed and recycling those materials makes more economic sense.”

Residents frequently have questions about how to dispose of items properly. The following are items that are accepted for recycling for a fee:

Auto tires ($3 each)

Truck tires with no rims ($10 each)

Tractor tires with no rims, or earth mover tires ($25 each)

Refrigerant appliances (SECCRA staff removes the refrigerant) ($12 each)

Other appliances ($5 each)

Unchipped brush and limbs ($45 per ton)

Grass, leaves, chipped brush (must notify office before dumping) ($20 per ton). Less than 500 pounds or material delivered by a municipality is free

Automobile Batteries (Free)

Cell phones (Free through Cell Phones for Soldiers)

All other electronics are recycled for free. The DEP forbids the facility from accepting electronics from businesses or institutions.

Motor Oil (Free)

Antifreeze (Free)

Used needles (Free)

To use the SECCRA Community Landfill, drivers drive onto an inbound scale. Drivers inform the weighmaster if they have anything other than regular household trash. The vehicle and contents is weighed. After being weighed, vehicles can drive to the appropriate areas to unload waste. When leaving, drivers and their vehicles are weighed again and billed accordingly. Cash, checks and all major credit cards are accepted. The facility is open Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Saturday from 8 a.m. to noon. The address is: SECCRA Community Landfill, 219 Street Road,
West Grove, PA 19390.

To contact Staff Writer John Chambless, email jchambless@chestercounty.com.

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