New recycling company in; old plastic bags out

A new company is now responsible for sorting and disposing of materials collected by Seymour’s recycling program.

In December, Illinois-based Flint River Recycling purchased the recycling division of Seymour’s Ranger Enterprises, which took over the job from the city four years ago.

The change is forcing the Department of Public Works to stop accepting plastic bags as part of its curbside recycling pickup after Feb. 29.

The city’s new recycling vendor has requested that plastic bags be kept separate from other materials because of the damage they can cause recycling sorting and processing equipment, said Bernie Bryant, Seymour’s environmental/recycling educator.

“We get a lot of them, but they are just a nightmare on equipment,” she said.

Seymour is one of the few cities that accepted plastic bags through curbside pickup, Bryant said.

The bags are still recyclable, however, and residents have a couple of options of where to take them.

“They can drop them off here at our facility in Freeman Field or take them to a local store that has a bag return program like Jay C, and I’ve been told Walmart,” she said.

Bryant also recommends people purchase reusable bags for shopping to help reduce the number of plastic bags that need to be recycled.

One benefit of Flint River Recycling taking over is that all material will be sorted locally instead of being transferred first, Bryant said.

“We will be having a town hall meeting in March to introduce Flint River Recycling to the community so they can explain who they are,” she said. “But we don’t really expect any major changes.”

Bryant said a problem they are running into with current recycling is the amount of Styrofoam being disposed of in the yellow-lidded curbside recycling toters.

Seymour does not accept any Styrofoam material for recycling, she said.

“Styrofoam is a big problem because people are hearing about it being recycled in other places like California, but they don’t understand the volume it takes, and it has to be cleaned first,” she said. “We just aren’t equipped to handle it.”

Any recycling toters found to contain Styrofoam products will be tagged by Department of Public Works workers as having trash in them and will not be picked up until the Styrofoam is removed, she said.

As far as recycling goes in Seymour, Bryant said 50 to 55 percent of residents participate in curbside recycling, and currently there is a shortage of yellow-lidded toters.

“We have a lot more people wanting to recycle than we do toters at this time, so there is a long waiting list,” she said.

Bryant said she is glad there is a high demand for curbside recycling, and she expects city leaders to discuss funding another purchase of toters in the near future.

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January Rutherford is a reporter for The (Seymour) Tribune. She can be reached at jrutherford@tribtown.com or 812-523-7069.