by Terry Rogers
Recently, the City of Milford approved changes to their solid waste ordinance, lowering the cost of a second trash container and eliminating some of the fees related to trash, recycling and yard waste collection. However, one change to the ordinance could result in unexpected costs to residents and businesses. According to Mark Whitfield, Public Works Director, if a load is rejected at the dumping site because items placed in the recycling or yard waste bin should not be there, the customer who placed the incorrect items in the bin could be charged for the full load which may be as much as $1,000.
“If we catch it before it goes in the truck, we won’t collect the container, but we don’t catch them all before they are dumped into the truck,” Whitfield explained. “With the automated trucks, we have cameras in the hopper of the truck where the container is dumped. The driver notes the container and the items. If we get turned down at either the yard waste facility or the recycling facility and, if we noted such when it went into the hopper, we will go back on that property owner.”
In an effort to help residents and business understand items that are permitted in recycling and yard waste bins, Whitfield offered tips and suggestions that could not only help the City continue to provide the services, but also prevent customers from an unexpected bill from the City.
“It is very important that folks know what is recyclable and how to recycle it, not what they wish could be recycled or how to recycle it,” Whitfield said. “When folks put items they wish could be recycled in the container, or in the wrong container, they probably end up making more waste, not less. Delaware Solid Waste Authority has a comprehensive list of what can be recycled and how they can be recycled.”
Some of the items that Whitfield mentioned that people believe are recyclable but are not include clothing, shoes, Styrofoam, hoses, electronics, children’s toys, drywall, carpet, rugs and carpet padding. Wood, including lumber and branches, cannot be recycled nor can leaded glass, including plate glass, safety glass or canning jars.
“Cans, jars and bottles should be rinsed before they are placed in the recycling container,” Whitfield explained. “They need to be free of all food particles. Many people think they can recycle pizza boxes because they are made of cardboard. However, the grease and food particles from the pizza make the boxes unusable for recycling. Don’t put recycled items in plastic trash bags. Recycling centers use automatic sorters with separation wheels and electric eyes. The plastic bags wrap around the sorting wheels and they obscure the electric eye from properly sorting the materials.”
Yard waste contamination is a particular problem in Milford. Whitfield explained that it has gotten so bad with contaminated yard waste that the composting operations we take items to may no longer accept anything from the City of Milford in the future. This means the City may have to end the service if they have no place to take the material.
“In yard waste containers, we find pressure treated lumber, wood from furniture, painted or varnished wood,” Whitfield explained. “We have found regular trash, plastic bags, paper, bricks, biodegradable bags, leaves with trash, shingles. None of these things can be placed in the yard waste container. The number one problem is just people throwing trash in the yard waste container.”
Yard waste containers may contain limbs and branches, but they must fit inside the container with the lid closed. Grass clippings and weeds may be placed in the container. Rake leaves to the curb or furthest point of the lawn by 7 AM each Monday. There is only one crew collecting leaves each week so the City asks residents to be patient. Leaves may be covered with a tarp to keep them from blowing, but they should not be bagged. They should also be free of brush, glass, cans, rocks and other debris.
“It is also important that residents and businesses remove the cans from the street once trash, recycling and yard waste has been collected,” Whitfield said. “After a one-time warning, property owners can be billed $5 per day for each container left at the street after the day of collection. The fee is added to the property owner’s monthly bill.”
More information on what items can be placed in the recycling and yard waste bins can be found on the City of Milford website (www.cityofmilford.com) as well as the DSWA website (www.dswa.comresidential-recycling-guidelines/).