Recycling district monitoring drop-off site’s overflowing issue

GREENWOOD, Ind. - A recycling drop-off is running into a problem of constantly being full and turning the area into an eyesore if helping hands aren't quickly out to help tidy up the area.

Last month, the Johnson County Recycling District, which oversees five drop-off locations, said nearly 90-tons of material were recycled at the site in the Emmanuel Church parking off of S.R. 135, a record for the recycling district.

“Paper and cardboard are dumped five times a week and the two co-mangled bins are dumped six days a week," said the district's executive director, Jessie Biggerman. "So, it’s constantly being turned over and yet we still have this massive problem."

The district showed pictures from last month where several towers of stacked boxes surrounded the filled bins. Biggerman said that can sometimes be expected during the holidays, but not at the start of spring. The boxes can be only a part of the problem.

“Once somebody has left lids open on the bins, all the papers in there are flushed out through the wind and end up in people’s yards and shrubs.”

A retired couple, Kirk and Patti Mangold, have volunteered their time at the site for nearly three years. They may spend eight hours a week at the one site, sometimes walking a couple hundred yards to pick up something they thought was left for the recycling bins, but blew away.

“Of course, we’re disappointed with it, especially if it’s blown everywhere," Kirk said. "We’re trying to keep the church happy with all the stuff not blowing in their property.”

Biggerman said while the site serves the growing community of rural Greenwood, which she said is approximately 40,000 people, the site could close permanently if the issue is not resolved.

The district manages five sites and has had to close an old location before because dumping was too big of a problem. When the rural Greenwood site overflows, Biggerman said that encourages dumping.

“it just becomes literally a dumping ground," she said. "It may be a dumping ground of recyclable material, but it is still a major problem."

If the site closes, a new one would open, where Biggerman said more bins would be available, but simply adding capacity doesn't address the issue of users doing more to confine their recycled materials to the confined space.

Boxes need to be flattened to make use of the space and lids need to remain closed to make sure paper doesn't scatter across the site. The goal is to keep recycled material in the bins, rather than on the ground.

"For them it’s recyclable material," said Biggerman. "For us, once it gets piled on the ground, it becomes a nuisance waste."

The Mangold couple said they help because they understand the recycling site is a great service for the area, adding that many users will even stop to help because they don't want to lose the site.

Biggerman said the district appreciates the couple's service and others who help. With a three-person staff, it can't manage each site around the clock.