ELYRIA — The disposal of trash is actually kind of a dirty concept, but the city, in hopes of saving more money, would like residents to take more pride in the way they sort and dispose of their garbage and recyclables.
It’s called Sort 4 Elyria, and it’s a comprehensive information campaign geared at increasing awareness to the added benefits of recycling.
For months, city employees have been behind the push to get residents to recycle, but the latest piece of the campaign brought community members into the mix. Four informational videos have been produced with a group of volunteer actors. They focus on four key points — what is considered regular garbage, what should be recycled, what can be composted and what the city won’t take from tree lawns as trash.
“I hear many of the same questions from residents talking to their neighbors or other family members about how to dispose of their waste and I just thought it would be more understandable and accepted by residents if they heard the message from their friends and neighbors,” said Rodney Eye, sanitation manager and mastermind behind the idea.
Andre Cato, 38, said being in the video was more fun than he imagined.
“I thought it was a great opportunity to inform people on valuable information while at the same time having fun,” said Cato of Middleburg Heights, formerly of Elyria.
And, most important, Cato said even he learned a thing or two about recycling.
“Actually, I did learn something about recycling because I thought shiny things could not be recycled,” he said with a laugh. “I was told that by someone when I tried to recycle some things so now I know that was very wrong.”
The videos are being aired on Cable Channel 12 and www.cityofelyria.org.
Mayor Holly Brinda hopes residents will look past the cheesiness of the videos and really appreciate the message for what it means to the city.
“Recycling and proper waste disposal not only will make our community cleaner, safer and more beautiful, but it will save the city money,” she said. “When residents sort and remove their recyclables from their regular garbage, the city is not charged by Republic Services for depositing recyclables.’
Because of this the city has long pushed to increase the amount of recyclable it collects from residents. The 2010 switch to automated trash collection was very heavily favored because it would encourage more recycling by giving residents a receptacle specifically for recyclables.
It seems to have worked. Before the switch was made, the city was collecting five to seven tons of sorted, recyclable material daily. Currently, the sorted, recyclable material volume has tripled to an average of about 15 to 17 tons per day.
The savings is more than just a few nickels and dimes, according to Eye. The city pays close to $40 per ton of garbage taken to the landfill. Seventeen fewer tons a day equated to $680 a day in savings or $247,520 annually. When trash does not end up in the landfill, it’s like money in the city’s pocket, Eye said.
The Lorain County Solid Waste Management District likewise knows this fact and often will issue grants to municipalities that can be used to launch educational and awareness programs specific to individual communities. The grants themselves are tied to the amount of recycling a community does and in 2012 $370,000 worth of grants went to Lorain County cities, villages and townships for the environmental friendly actions.
The largest recipient was Elyria, which received a $52,627 grant. A similar-sized grant was awarded in 2013, giving Elyria more than $100,000.
Sort 4 Elyria was born from those grant proceeds. Residents may have already noticed material bearing the moniker in the form of brochures, e-newsletter and coloring books. The city has also purchased 12 recycling receptacles for the community to push the initiative even further.