Recycling effort at breaking point

Volunteers with Allen County Recycling are seeking help from the county, or anyone else for that matter, to keep the program going.


Local News

May 24, 2023 - 2:41 PM

Janie Works of Humboldt, one of the volunteers with Allen County Recycling, appeals for county assistance at Tuesday’s Allen County Commission meeting Photo by Vickie Moss / Iola Register

Leaders of a volunteer recycling effort are again seeking help to keep the program going.

Janie Works, a volunteer with Allen County Recycling, asked county commissioners to hire staff to help with the recycling program. 

The all-volunteer program is maxed out and struggling, she said. Most are senior citizens. 

“We’ve tried. We’ve done a really good job of collecting all kinds of recycling. We believe in keeping it out of the landfill. We believe in re-using it and keeping the earth a little better for the future,” she said.

“We can’t continue to do this voluntarily. It’s getting kind of out-of-hand for us.”

Commissioner Bruce Symes noted recycling is an issue that keeps coming up. Both city and county leaders have been reluctant to get involved in recycling.

“You’ve created a good program and it’s grown,” Symes said. 

“I know it keeps trash out of our landfill. There’s no way it wouldn’t cost the county so it has to be something taxpayers value enough they pay for it without an expectation of it paying for itself.”

“Most of the services you do, don’t pay for themselves,” Works responded.

Commissioners asked several questions about the program, such as how many volunteers contribute and how much recyclable material was collected. 

Works did not have some of the requested data on hand, but said the majority of the work is collecting cardboard from about 60 Iola businesses, about a dozen Humboldt locations and another 20 or so elsewhere in the county. 

Humboldt’s program is a little different, Works noted. Volunteers there collect cardboard to take to B&W Trailer Hitches. Workers bale the cardboard and sell it; B&W keeps the proceeds.

Otherwise, cardboard is taken to the Allen County Recycling facility located behind Pete’s convenience store on East Street/U.S. 54. Volunteers use a horizontal baler and sell the cardboard to recycling companies. They also collect a wide variety of recycled materials, such as plastic, glass, paper and tin. 

Symes suggested the group send out a call for volunteers or ask businesses to contribute more.

Commission Chairman David Lee and Commissioner Jerry Daniels wondered if participating entities — the county, Iola and Humboldt — might be able to work together to dedicate a small amount of an employee’s time. Perhaps a county employee and a city employee could each spend a few hours a week to help with recycling.