The McLean County Landfill accepted more solid waste last year than any year since 2009 and the county recycled a record amount of waste. Nearly 160,000 tons of solid waste were landfilled and nearly 92,000 tons were recycled. The numbers come from the latest report from the Ecology Action Center. The 11.3 percent increase in total tons solid waste in 2015 comes after a 15 percent uptick in 2014.
"I've seen a correlation between the economy and total waste generated," said Michael Brown, Executive Director of the Ecology Action Center and McLean County Solid Waste Coordinator. "In the height of the recession we saw some of the lowest rates of total waste generated in a long time. And then as we saw recovery from the recession we see that turn right back around with more waste generated.
Brown said with more disposable income, people bought more things, generating more waste. Increased business activity can also lead to an increase waste stream.
The recycling rate dropped slightly in 2015 to 36.5 percent and has been fairly steady, under 4o percent since 2009. Brown says a new solid waste plan in development would help raise the recycling rate. The plan would address missing parts of the recycling system, such single stream recycling for multi-family housing.
"That is something that comes up several times a year, in terms of students coming up as an individual or as part of groups or from other directions, the need to better address that gap in the system for student housing, but also other multi-family housing whether it's in Bloomington or Normal, that is not sufficiently addressed," said Brown.
The plan would also address construction waste.
"The construction-demolition waste currently being generated in our community makes up 21.5% of our municipal solid waste," said Brown. "We know in 2015 we recycled less than a thousand tons of that."
Brown is thinking about ways to incentive additional construction recycling. He said one of the few downstate construction-demolition recycling facilities available in Bloomington. The question, according to Brown, is 'how we can make that more accessible and better used in the community."
Brown said recycling has extended the life of the landfill which now may have only around one remaining year of capacity. When the McLean County Landfill closes, solid waste would be trucked to another landfill increasing costs due to transporting the waste.