McLean County Recycling Rate Exceeds Long-time Goal

Jun 26, 2017

A smaller recycling bin, next to a larger garbage cart, in the Town of Normal.
Credit Staff / WGLT

The percentage of McLean County solid waste diverted to recycling and away from the landfill has pushed past a goal set in 2007.  

Executive Director of the Ecology Action Center (EAC) Michael Brown, said the 14.6 percent increase in recycling, broke the 40 percent goal for the first time. The McLean County recycling rate now stands at nearly 42 percent.

Brown said the recycling rate increase can be attributed to the City of Bloomington and Town of Normal contracts with Henson C & D (construction and demolition) Recycling to recycle curbside bulky waste.

"So this is old furniture or materials from a remodel job and so actual construction materials things made of wood,  metal, concrete, brick, what have you, all of that is now going to the sorting facility," said Brown. 

Things like couches and wood furniture are broken down to the item's separate elements for recycling. The bulky waste recycling began in April of 2016 and the recovery rate of these kinds of materials jumped from 4 percent to 21 percent. 

Couches curbed, like this one in Bloomington, are now broken down and recycled.
Credit Ralph Weisheit

Brown said without the bulky waste recycling, the county's recycling rate would likely still be stagnant, just under 40 percent. He said he knows there's room to continue to increase the rate. The EAC is in the final stages of developing a 20-year solid waste plan for the county. Part of the development process was to examine the waste stream.

"We know there's a large amount of what is the same conventional, traditional recyclables being generated and landfilled, but not necessarily just from households.There's commercial recycling," said Brown. "There's a large amount of the same type of materials (recovered from households) metal, glass, paper, plastic being thrown away by business across our community." 

Brown said the solid waste plan nearing finalization will help set future recycling rates. San Francisco has a recycling rate of around 80 percent. Brown said reaching that could be possible over the course of the next 20-year solid waste plan. 

Total municipal waste generated also fell by double digits. Brown said the nearly the 30 percent decrease in total waste was likely due to better data collection.

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