Wednesday, July 2nd, 2008
Mercer County is number one
County recycles more trash than any other in Ohio
By Shelley Grieshop
Three employees sort items on a conveyor belt at the Ohio Recycling Center in Ch. . .
Mercer County residents recycle more and discard less trash than any other county in the state of Ohio, according to the latest figures from the Ohio EPA.
"I knew we were doing well," Carla Buening of the Mercer County Solid Waste District said Tuesday.
The Ohio EPA each year calculates solid waste reduction and recycling rates for Ohio's 52 solid waste management districts to gauge the progress the state is making toward a goal set in 2001 to reduce and/or recycle at least 50 percent of the waste generated.
The most recent statistics (2005) show Mercer County already plowed through that goal by achieving an overall 69.6 percent in waste reduction and recycling. The numbers were obtained by the EPA for residential, commercial and industrial sectors.
The icing on the cake? The county achieved the highest number even though it is one of the smallest districts (10th of 52) in population density.
Auglaize County's numbers are up there, too. It showed 66 percent in waste reduction and recycling, however, the district places near the middle in population density compared to other reporting districts.
No one contacted by The Daily Standard could say for sure how the county achieved the distinction as No. 1 in recycling but several speculated. Ron Lochtefeld, who operates the Ohio Recycling Center in Chickasaw, believes it's local tradition.
"It's something the older generation started years ago. During times like the depression and the war everyone had to reuse everything," he said. "Hardly anything got thrown away."
Unfortunately, some of those conservation practices - such as simply reusing plastic margarine bowls - has become lost over the years, Buening said.
"I think we could do better," she said. "A lot of people don't recycle unless there's money in it for them."
In 2004, officials with the Mercer County solid waste agency stepped up the cause by actively promoting recycling and other ways to reduce our landfills, Buening said. Staff education specialist, Bonnie Wurst, continues to speak on the subject to children and adults at schools, libraries and organizational meetings in Mercer and Auglaize counties.
The solid waste staff also educates the public by manning a booth at the fair each year. Their overall effort appears to have paid off: Mercer County showed a 75 percent increase in recycling from 2004 to 2005.
Communities across Ohio became aware of the need for waste reduction following the passage of House Bill 592 in 1988, which also established Ohio's Solid Waste Management Districts.