By PHIL STEPHENS, guest columnist
In 2015, the Brown County Recycle Center took in record amounts of cardboard, plastics, cans, office paper, glass, magazines, books, newspaper and scrap metal products.
Brown County residents and businesses recycled more than 1 million pounds of material with us.
We also took in 7.5 tons of shredded office paper and 3.7 tons of unwanted electronics. That included 186 television sets.
Finally, this past May, throughout the course of two days, the Recycle Center took in more than 2,600 tires, ranging from bicycle tires to large tractor tires. That is enough tires to fill up two-and-a-half semi-trailers.
The Recycle Center had set up a volunteer day where a group of local citizens and Cummins Inc. employees living in Brown County went around to various properties and actually picked up the tires and brought them back. This program is designed to assist people without the means to bring tires in themselves. We hope to duplicate that program once again in 2016.
As you may know, abandoned tires take more than 100 years to decompose, seeping potentially toxic material into the ground. They also collect water, which breeds mosquitoes, potentially causing serious health problems.
My hat’s off to all the households, civic organizations, volunteers and Cummins employees who contributed to that. That is truly a great accomplishment.
Much of the reason for this is a great community awareness of the importance of a “green image” for our county, based on its forested scenic beauty and tourism industry.
Your Recycle Center director is now on the board of the new Keep Brown County Beautiful program which is an affiliate of Keep America Beautiful. This program is designed to aid our county in litter clean-up, education and overall beautification of our community. We will provide more information as that program develops.
Please put these special spring recycling events on your calendars:
On Saturday, April 16, from 8 a.m. to noon will be our electronics recycling day. We’ll take everything from handheld transistor radios to large-screen TVs. There is typically a $10 charge for any TV set or computer monitor.
On Saturday, April 30 we will be taking documents for shredding from 9 a.m. to noon. On that same day you’ll be able to bring your unwanted and/or expired prescription drugs in for proper disposal from 8 a.m. to noon.
On Saturday, May 21 we will have our annual tire collection day from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. We’ll take tires of any size including rims. Last year we actually picked up tires the Friday before. We may have that program again and will let you know at a later date.
Just as a reminder, we now take No. 7 plastics.
We do not take plastic grocery bags anymore.
The Recycle Center has significantly stepped up efforts to investigate and enforce illegal dumping cases in Brown County. Working in conjunction with the health department, we are investigating several illegal dumping cases presently.
In addition, we are working together revising the current illegal dumping laws in Brown County making them more effective. With tourism being our primary industry, I believe it’s important to keep our county clean, upholding its environmentally friendly image.
I want to give a hat’s off to our Adopt-A-Road litter clean-up volunteers. In 2015, they picked up a staggering 900-plus bags of litter off our county roads. We signed up one new sponsor for Adopt-A-Road: Rhett and Marilyn Fagg, maintaining Greasy Creek Road. The work the Garden Club does for litter clean-up in our county is incredible.
And, last but not least, I want to recognize the many local businesses that do their recycling with us. They are too numerous to mention in this article, but we want you to know your efforts are deeply appreciated.
The Brown County Recycle Center is the environmental “housekeeper” division of the county. Without our efforts in general recycling, illegal dumping, tire clean-up, electronics/TV recycling, document shredding, education, appliance recycling and the popular Adopt-A-Road litter campaign, our landscape might look just a little bit different.
Since we have no landfill here and fragmented multi-source trash removal, our operation is needed more than ever.
Tourism, in conjunction with environmental aesthetics and beauty, is our claim to fame.
I urge anyone reading this article to please, when you get a chance, take the time and let your elected officials here know how you feel about our programs and the good we do for your community.
I would also like to give a hearty “thank you” to the following elected officials who went to bat for our recycling center at the Statehouse last month to help defeat Senate Bill 88, which would have stripped major funding sources for Indiana solid waste districts.
They are Diana Biddle, commissioner; Joe Wray, commissioner; Dave Redding, county council president; and Darren Byrd, county council.
Phil Stephens is district director of the Brown County Solid Waste Management District/Recycle Center. He can be reached at 988-0140 or firstname.lastname@example.org.