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RE: [GreenYes] High-tech recycling on our horizon? Times of Northwest Indiana 26nov01
So what is this, yet another magic black-box?  And where is the relevant
information that would make this article something other than a puff PR
piece?  For example, how do they sort the mixed garbage in this "massive
two story recycling center"?  And what exactly is their recycling rate?
And what quality compost are they producing?  And why is GreenYes
sending out crap like this?

Eric Lombardi
Executive Director
EcoCycle, Inc
Boulder, CO

-----Original Message-----
From: [] On Behalf
Of Paul Goettlich
Sent: Tuesday, November 27, 2001 1:55 PM
To: GreenYes
Subject: [GreenYes] High-tech recycling on our horizon? Times of
Northwest Indiana 26nov01

High-tech recycling on our horizon? Lake County explores
system to ease landfill dependency.

Jerry Davich / Times of Northwest Indiana 26nov01

Think of it as a high-tech, multimillion-dollar Erector set that sorts
through trash like nobody's business. Except in this case it's listed as
business for Lake County solid waste officials.

In Medina County, Ohio, that state's second-fastest growing region,
a massive two-story recycling center that has attracted 17,000 visitors
26 countries since 1993. It's also a mandatory field trip for thousands
area students there.

"It's definitely not just another recycling plant," said Bill
district waste coordinator for Medina County.

All the trash in that north central Ohio county -- including all
residential, industrial and business waste -- gets delivered to a
processing facility, owned by the county waste district, but operated by
outside environmental firm.

This 60,000-square-foot facility, dubbed the "waste gate," handles about
million pounds of trash a day, delivered by a dozen or so different
"We call it the 'we've got you covered' plan," Strazinsky said, "because
even if residents choose not to recycle, we've got them covered by doing
at this plant."

Using the latest technology, a fleet of forklifts and some old-fashioned
elbow grease, the plant's 70 workers sort through trash, sending every
feasible recyclable one way, compost material another and what's left
to landfills. Next year, the $8 million plant will be expanded to handle
even more complex technology.

"What we'll do is take the tiny bits of leftover paper and film plastic
turn them into pellets, which can be burned like fuel," Strazinsky said.

These pinky-sized pellets can then be used in place of coal for
burners -- such as in steel mills and power plants -- catching the eye
officials here.

Last week, the Lake County Solid Waste Management District board agreed
continue exploring the Ohio system, though it was made clear that it was
under any obligation to do so.

"This is more than just a pie-in-the-sky idea. It's feasible. We just
know how feasible," said Jeff Langbehn, the district's director.

At its meeting, the board tipped over the project's first domino, by
out a request for a proposal, which will eventually determine whether
system's cost is worth future discussion. By May, the board should have
these dollar figures.

Currently, Lake County tipping fees -- the cost per ton of trash
at landfill sites -- hovers between $26 and $38. If the cost for the new
system falls somewhere near this vicinity, Langbehn said there's a good
chance it could become a reality here.

Although traditional landfills are still the most economical form of
handling waste, they're filling up fast, leaving local governments
the country looking to the future.
"Our plant is odor-free, and I haven't seen one rat since I've been
Strazinsky said. "Maybe it's because waste on the move is different than
waste that just sits there."

If Lake County adopts the new technology, about three plants would be
to handle all the waste. The Ohio plant handles 500 tons of trash per
while Lake County generates closer to 2,000 tons per day.

In 1993, Medina County officials took out a 20-year loan from a state
to build the facility, charging the same $54 tipping fee to all waste
haulers. Tipping fees there now have been lowered to $49.

At the time, waste haulers there raised residents' monthly trash bills
average of $2.25 for the new service. But there hasn't been a rate hike
"The average monthly trash bill here is about $12," Strazinsky said.

Average monthly trash bills here are about the same, although they vary

Vern Hein, a longtime resident of Leroy, in unincorporated Lake County,
$12 a month for trash pickup, including a $2 recycling fee. Hein said it
would be worth a couple bucks more a month for a countywide system that
ensures recycling is done.

Porter County solid waste officials admit that dwindling landfill space
is a
"looming concern," but not pressing enough to prompt a more expensive
alternative at this point.
"It's all about economics," district director Lance Hodges said.

Like much of Lake County's waste, Porter County waste goes to different
landfills outside the county, with tipping fees averaging about $25,
said. Some of Porter County's trash is taken to the Berrien County
in southwest Michigan.

"We feel the pressure. But we're not moving full speed ahead right now
any direction," he added. "The Michigan landfill still has a lot of life
As for the high-tech capabilities of the Ohio plant, Porter County is
more of a wait-and-see attitude.

"It sounds interesting, but we need more information," Hodges said.
"This is
obviously a regional problem."

Jerry Davich can be reached at or (219) 933-3243.

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