Union city officials are trying to figure out what to do with three large recycling bins behind the City Auditorium that often fill up with material that can’t be recycled.
“Throughout different times of the year, they overflow, and it creates a nuisance for the property owners that surround our facility,” Parks Director Chad Pohlmann told the city’s park advisory board at its October meeting.
The city has no set standard on what the bins are to be used for or even why they are there, Pohlmann said. The dumpster-like bins have been part of Union’s contract with Waste Connections of Missouri for several years.
“Essentially, it’s become a public dump,” board member Jeff Watson said.
Pohlmann said he was told by Waste Connections that, because the items are not properly discarded, the company has been dumping the recycling bin items in the landfill.
Waste Connection officials could not be reached before press time.
Union was supposed to receive a portion of the money received from the recycling, which reached $314 at one point early in the contract, Pohlmann said. “Since that time we have not received any monetary adjustment to our bills or a check,” he said.
Pohlmann said he will try to stop people who are dumping in the containers when they are overfilled. Many tell him they live outside the city.
“They don’t have any other facilities to recycle,” parks Program Coordinator Angie Breeden said of the people using the containers, some of whom come from areas like Beaufort or Owensville.
Many people don’t know the rules of single-source recycling, including that items cannot be bagged and things that contain grease like a pizza box should not go in recycling bins because they can contaminate other items, Pohlmann said.
Among the options city officials are considering are moving the bins or making videos with information on how to recycle properly, Pohlmann said.
“One of the solutions would be to have them in a gated area of the city where you can secure it from 4:30 (p.m.) to 8 the next morning, so it would only be utilized during operational hours of the city,” he said. “Whatever solution this comes to, it’s going to be my recommendation that this should be part of a citywide campaign on how we should recycle.”
The city also could have separate bins for paper, aluminum and plastic, like Washington does, Pohlmann said.
There is also the option Waste Connections offered. “They said get rid of them,” Pohlmann said.
Most Union residents also can recycle with their trash pickup.
“This sounds like a bigger problem than just Union,” board member Gary D’Onofrio said.
Although no official recommendation was made by the park board, it came to a consensus that the recycling bins are not a benefit to the city under the current system.
The issue was expected to be discussed by the board of aldermen at the parks, buildings, development and public service committee, but the Nov. 15 meeting was canceled.
But Mayor Bob Schmuke, who was in attendance at the park board meeting, told the board people would dump their items in front of the gate if the bins were gated.
“We discussed moving it to the city shed,” he said. “There’s some liability issues there with people coming and going with city equipment coming in and out.”