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Trash has a $50,000 effect on WWRA’s budget

Courtesy photo. Full size pool cover.
Courtesy photo. Full size pool cover that was cut up and dumped in a recycling bin.

(Publisher’s note: Chelsea Update is a big supporter of recycling in Western Washtenaw County and would like to help WWRA stop the proliferation of trash in both the public recycling bins and residential containers. If you can think of ways that WWRA can better educate folks or have suggestions about deterrents, please send me an email at [email protected] and I’ll pass along your ideas anonymously.)

(Chelsea Update would like to thank Frank Hammer, chairman of the Western Washtenaw Recycling Authority board, for the information in this column.)

This week, Western Washtenaw Recycling Authority (WWRA) set its budget for 2015 and was forced to include $50,000 to cover trash costs, because they had tripled in 2014.

I apologize in advance for the number of articles on this subject, but I keep hoping each week that things will improve.

They haven’t.

So, since a picture is worth 1,000 words, I’ve included evidence of some of the trash that employees must deal with when the recycling comes into the new building for sorting.

How could someone spend the time to cut up an insulated pool cover so it fits through the narrow bin openings and not know that they are dumping trash into the recycling bins?

The same is true of another common type of trash that’s being dumped in the bins – construction scrap lumber.

Items of this type can be taken to the city’s solid waste facility and for a small fee, it can be properly disposed of.  I realize that WWRA and the city’s solid waste facility are in the same complex at 8025 Werkner Road, but they are separate from each other.

Courtesy photo. Scrap lumber.
Courtesy photo. Scrap lumber.

There seems to be a disconnect between single-stream recycling and trash, and we can’t seem to educate folks quickly enough about the differences. But that doesn’t mean we’re going to stop trying.

So, if you have any suggestions about how to better educate or deter folks from dumping trash in both the curbside and public recycling bins, we’d love to hear them.

You, the residents in member communities of WWRA, are paying for this illegal dumping through your yearly operational assessment. We at WWRA, are trying our best to keep costs contained, but this trash situation has become a big and expensive problem.

People put trash in and around the WWRA bins because they think they can get away with it, and they duck and hide from the cameras that have been installed. But you can help stem this expensive tide. If you see someone who is obviously dumping trash, get a license plate number or other identifying information from the vehicle, take a photo with your cell phone and let us know about it at [email protected].

Courtesy photo. Adult diapers that were dumped in a recycling bin.
Courtesy photo. Adult diapers that were dumped in a recycling bin.

If convicted, there’s a $1,000 fine for the dumper and a $500 reward for the person who catches them.  We think if a few people are caught, it will deter others from breaking the law.

In addition, we think people are confusing recycling with trash collection, and we welcome your ideas about how to better educate folks about these two services, which are not interchangeable.

Apparently, some people think it is WWRA’s job to sort trash from recyclables, which is costing all of us. Perhaps they can’t afford to pay to throw away large items; but you are the ones who are footing their bill.

So please, help us get this expensive problem under control so everyone can continue to recycle and pay less money to do so.

In future weeks, we will look at specific types of materials that are and aren’t recyclable. Some of them may surprise you. In the meantime, please check the list here if you have questions.

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3 thoughts on “Trash has a $50,000 effect on WWRA’s budget”

  1. Styrofoam is recyclable but only if you take it to Ann Arbor. Could we have a bin at Werkner? I have been throwing styrofoam in the trash.
    Is Chelsea still used as a dumping site? If they are, maybe there should be a bin for those that can’t figure out what goes where.
    As for punishment, the offender should have to sort the trash for a day as well as the fine.

  2. Might we need to go back to paying a garbage collection fee instead of buying orange bags in town? I realize buying only the number of bags a household needs encourages recycling but maybe it’s time to switch it back since most of us are used to recycling now. This won’t help with those outside the city of Chelsea. And maybe the city is not the main problem?

  3. Our family uses the recycling center at least every couple weeks and find it very convenient and allows us to do our part. I feel if people continue to abuse this service that we should be charged for this service and we are willing to pay.

    Thank you,

    We will be on the lookout for abusers.

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