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Local agency aims to increase recycling

10/24/2013 - West Side Leader
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By Kathleen Folkerth

DOWNTOWN AKRON — The area’s recycling agency wants to put more of an effort toward education to increase the number of residents and businesses that recycle, Summit County Council learned at its Oct. 21 meeting.

Yolanda Walker, executive director of ReWorks, formerly known as the Summit/Akron Solid Waste Management Agency, spoke to Council during the meeting and told members they would receive a copy of the agency’s five-year plan soon. Walker said every five years, the agency must ask Council and Summit County communities to approve or disapprove of the plan.

The public comment period on the plan closes Oct. 31, Walker said. After that, Council will be presented with the plan and has 90 days to weigh in on it. The plan can be read at www.SummitReworks.com.

Walker said the agency would like to see recycling rates improve in Summit County.

“We are below the national average,” she said. “We want to make it our mission in the next five years to address that.”

In Summit County, the weekly average of recycling per household is about 4 and a half pounds, while the national average is closer to 5 to 6 pounds per week, Walker said.

The agency is putting efforts behind three main goals, she added: providing communities with financial support for curbside recycling programs; expanding opportunities for small- and medium-sized businesses to recycle; and expanding educational opportunities.

She also highlighted programs that ReWorks is heading up, noting that it is the only agency in Ohio providing businesses with a way to recycle food waste into compost.

After looking over the agency’s annual report, which showed recycling rates in local communities, Councilman Bill Roemer (R-at large) asked why there are discrepancies among communities. Walker said communities that use a single hauler tend to have a higher rate of recycling than those that have several haulers coming in.

According to 2012 statistics, communities in the West Side Leader’s coverage area had recycling rates (which is the amount of recycled tons divided by total waste generated) without yard waste of: 10.55 percent, Akron; 17.21 percent, Bath; 21.44 percent, Boston; 9.40 percent, Copley; 20.66 percent, Cuyahoga Falls; 10.81 percent, Fairlawn; 5.97 percent, Norton; 13.38 percent, Peninsula; 18.91 percent, Richfield Township; and 17.97 percent, Richfield Village.

Also during the meeting, Council adopted an ordinance that will allow the county to amend its policy on auctions of unwanted county property. County officials said the change will allow the county to use a private auction to dispose of items valued at more than $15,000. Currently, the county’s ordinances specify that a public auction or sealed bids are the only ways for the county to unload property at that value.

Council also began hearings this week as officials work to compile the 2014 budget.

John Saros, executive director of Summit County Children Services, told Council that the agency will see its budget decline $1 million in both the expenses and revenue categories. He added the agency is in the midst of a hiring freeze that will likely remain through the end of this year.

“It’s definitely a challenge because the issue for us is keeping caseloads down,” he said.

Council also heard from Tom Armstrong, superintendent of the Summit County Board of Developmental Disabilities. He said that agency plans to offer an early retirement incentive to employees to help lower staffing costs in the coming years.

County Council will meet for committee meetings Oct. 28 at 4:30 p.m. in Council Chambers on the seventh floor of the Ohio Building, 175 S. Main St.

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