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The Rumpke recycling facility outside of Cincinnati processes up to 55 tons of recyclables per day. The incoming materials are sorted by hand, then sorted further through a series of complicated mechanical processes. The Green Environmental Coalition recently organized a tour of the recycling center and landfill. (Photo by Dylan Taylor-Lehman)

The Rumpke recycling facility outside of Cincinnati processes up to 55 tons of recyclables per day. The incoming materials are sorted by hand, then sorted further through a series of complicated mechanical processes. (Photo by Dylan Taylor-Lehman)

Village eyes more recycling options

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Garbage and recycling collection rates are set to rise, and maybe more than usual.

That’s because the Village is considering supplemental recycling options for the community.

In August, the Village of Yellow Springs extended its municipal waste collection contract with Rumpke for an additional two years, with costs to the Village to grow at 3% per year.

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Although the Village typically passes the contract cost increase to customers, this year the Village might add another 2% to rates next year in order to expand recycling and cover other administrative expenses for garbage collection.

Village Manager Josué Salmerón proposed the changes at Council’s Sept. 8 meeting.

“As you know, we have plastics that our residents want to recycle but they are unable to recycle with Rumpke because there isn’t a market for it,” Salmerón said.

The total annual revenue from a 2% increase would come to about $5,000 per year for the Village. That money could be used to fund a central collection site at the Bryan Center for recyclables such as #5 plastics, which Rumpke does not collect. In addition, money could fund educational campaigns to reduce waste.

“The strategy should be how do we reduce our waste overall, versus finding other ways to recycle it or mitigate it,” Salmerón said.

The amount of trash produced by local households is steadily rising, Salmerón reported in August. It grew from 1,116 tons collected in 2018 to 1,154 tons in 2019, a 3.5% increase. Recycling only increased 1.7% over the same time period, from 489.4 to 498.1 tons, he reported.

The Village extended its Rumpke contract because the company is the “key market provider” for recycling services in the area, Salmerón noted in August, with no competition.

“Its competitor that serves our area relies on Rumpke for its recycling services,” he said.

In other changes, the Village is looking to move from eight tiers of service to three tiers, with villagers able to add auxiliary bins to their pickup on a monthly basis using a flexible fourth tier.

“If they needed an additional bin for the holidays — Christmas or Thanksgiving —  they could sign up for the bins for just that month and pay for what they use,” Salmerón explained.

According to Salmerón’s proposal, rates for tier 1 service (up to 35 gallons of waste) would rise from $13.34 this year to $14.01 in 2021 and $14.43 in 2022; tier 2 service (up to 65 gallons of waste) would increase from $14.56 to $15.29 in 2021 and $15.75 in 2022; and tier 3 service (up to 120 gallons of waste) might rise from $14.77 to $17.05 in 2021 and $17.55 in 2022.

Council members were supportive of the proposal, but wanted to wait to decide about the 2% surcharge. Council Vice President Marianne MacQueen said recycling options these days are, unfortunately, limited.

“What we do with things that should be able to be recycled is daunting [to solve],” MacQueen said.

MacQueen added that the Environmental Commission has been studying the issue for years, and that while using the Bryan Center as a central collection site makes some sense, it’s also fraught with challenges, such as the cleanliness of items.

Salmerón added that the Village may also consider a one-time surcharge for spring cleanup, in which villagers can put an unlimited amount of some items at the curb once a year.

And under the new contract with Rumpke, villagers will be allowed to dispose of two bulk items per week instead of just one. As usual, residents must purchase stickers from the utility office to affix to the items.

“This is an added value to our residents,” Salmerón said of the change.

In the meantime, villagers can continue to use their Rumpke bins for single-stream (non-sorted) recycling. For Rumpke’s acceptable items list, visit:

The Environmental Commission is also in the early stages of working on an ordinance to bring to Council that would require recycling service at local apartment buildings, MacQueen reported.

In other Council business:

Council unanimously passed the second reading of an ordinance to decriminalize the possession of less than 200 grams (about seven ounces) of marijuana within village limits. The ordinance also reduces charges and fines for growing marijuana and possessing marijuana paraphernalia.

• Salmerón detailed the Village’s plans for spending the close to $200,000 the Village received from the federal CARES Act for increased expenses related to COVID-19. The Village will spend $16,000 to upgrade the HVAC systems in the Bryan Center, library and train station to improve air filtration; $30,000 for a fixed wireless system to expand internet access downtown; $10,000 to staff an online school support effort at the Youth Center; $20,000 for hand sanitizer stations and signs. The CARES money will also cover increased expenses at the municipal pool and increased Village staff expenses since the start of the pandemic.

• Council voted unanimously to rezone an area at the southern edge of downtown from the central business district (B–1) to a high-density residential district (R–C). Three properties were affected: 120 E. Limestone St., 415 Xenia Ave. (the Yellow Springs Community Library), and 403 Xenia Ave., which was recently purchased by villager Dave Chappelle to convert into apartments. Planning Commission recommended the change. In response to a question from the News, Village Planning and Zoning Administrator Denise Swinger said that the property owner’s intention for the 403 Xenia Ave. building was to turn it into apartments for rent, not transient guest lodging.

• Salmerón discussed options for local sewage sludge, which has been accumulating at the Village wastewater treatment plant over the last two months. For more than two years the Village paid $78,000 to dispose of its sludge, the end product after treating local wastewater, at the Reenergy biodigester plant on Herr Road just west of the village. But that facility was ordered to shut down earlier this summer after a Bath Township zoning ruling. The Village is exploring whether to purchase its own sludge press — after which it would ship its biosolids to a landfill or find area farms on which to apply them — or to outsource the removal. Depending on which direction the Village chooses, the cost of disposal may rise between $8,000 and $36,000 due to the change.

Council’s next regular meeting is Monday, Sept. 21, at 7 p.m., via Zoom.

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