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Lewes recycling drop-off center to be removed Feb. 22

Dumping a big problem at facilities, official says
The DSWA recycling drop-off center on American Legion Road in Lewes is set to be removed Wednesday, Feb. 22. NICK ROTH PHOTO
February 17, 2017

Story Location:
American Legion Road
Lewes  Delaware  19958
United States

Lewes’ recycling drop-off center on American Legion Road is set to be removed Wednesday, Feb. 22 as Delaware Solid Waste Authority continues to reduce the number of drop-off sites statewide to combat an increase in trash dumping at recycling sites. 

Mike Parkowski, chief of business and governmental services at DSWA, said the 13 sites that will remain will be manned centers where drop-off receptacles will be monitored. 

A drop-off site at Cape Henlopen State Park has already been removed. Local sites will remain in Long Neck, Harbeson, Ellendale and Georgetown. 

While it may be an inconvenience for some people, Parkowski said, the goal when mapping out the new program was to ensure at least one drop-off site would remain within 20 miles of every resident of the state.

“I know some people may think 20 miles is a long distance, but some states don’t have anything,” he said. “This is a pretty good accomplishment, especially with all the services we are offering.”

Limiting the number of drop-off centers, Parkowski said, will allow DSWA to expand its services to include paper shredding and hazardous household waste disposal at DSWA’s four hubs throughout the state. The nearest will be the Southern Solid Waste Management Center, which is currently under construction in Georgetown. When complete this summer, the center will offer paper shredding and disposal of latex paint the first Monday of each month and the disposal of household hazardous waste each Monday. The Georgetown center will be the only Sussex location to accept styrofoam and electronics. 

Before curbside recycling was offered in Delaware, Parkowski said, there were as many as 180 drop-off sites in Delaware. When the need dropped, the number of centers was reduced to 36. 

“Then we really decided that they just weren’t working anymore,” Parkwoski said. “We don’t know why the increase in trash [dumping] has occurred, but we’ve certainly seen it. Even during this transition, it’s been getting worse and worse.” 

Refrigerators and couches were among the items dumped at recycling centers, Parkowski said. Some people also treated the recycling receptacles as dumpsters for their everyday trash. 

When trash and other nonrecyclable materials are added into the stream, he said, it creates added stress on the sorting equipment at DSWA facilities. Parkowski said DSWA sites sort 33 tons of recyclables per hour. To put that in perspective, Parkowski said, the average person disposes 1 ton of trash annually. 

Parkowski said it’s imperative that the centers maintain a certain level of productivity. To ensure little to no trash or contaminants make it into the equipment, he said, there are six to eight people who stand along the fast-moving belt to pick off non-recyclables. If any recyclables were dropped off in trash bags, the whole bags are also pulled off the belt and thrown away.

“They don’t have time to sit there and open bags up to see what’s inside,” he said. “Even if they rip open a bag, it may cause problems because trash material could go into the system. The belt is coming at a high rate of speed.” 

To find the nearest drop-off center, go to dswa.com/find-recycling-center.