OREGON – Ogle County is trashing its recycling program and will close drop-off locations in five cities because the cost has become unsustainable.
Skyrocketing container hauling costs, contamination in the recycling stream, U.S. trade tariffs and the Chinese ban on importing U.S. recyclables contributed to the county's decision to end the program in May.
"This has been a very difficult decision for us as we know how popular the program is, and that it is the only outlet for recycling for many county residents," said Steve Rypkema, director of the county's solid waste management department. "We have kept this program going for over 24 years and feel terrible that it will end in May.
"Between the contamination and dumping problems at the sites and increasing costs, we have no choice."
The decision closes recycling stations in Byron, Oregon, Forreston, Monroe Center and Rochelle.
Residents in unincorporated areas in the county are being asked to contact their local waste hauler to see if curbside recycling is available, and if not, to encourage the hauler to provide the service. The end of the program will not affect curbside recycling services in different communities.
Last year, the program took in 806 tons of recyclables, and has totaled about 18,800 tons, or nearly 37.6 million pounds, since 1994.
The program cost nearly $65,000 in 2018, a 17 percent price increase, and the county's contract with Northern Illinois Disposal Service to haul containers to a transfer station in Rockford before being sent to a facility in Homewood expires in May.
The county went out for bids in the fall for a new contract, only one company was interested, and it would have been a 135 percent cost increase, to $163,000.
"That increase was just too much, and was more than the department had budgeted for the program, so the bid was rejected," Rypkema said. "With no other companies bidding on the service, we had no alternative but to cancel the program."
The cost of hauling the recyclables always has been higher than the value of the materials, and it's becoming more and more expensive to deliver and process the recycling because of global markets and increases in contamination and illegal dumping.
Just before Christmas, Rypkema said someone dumped 25 tires outside of the Rochelle station, and there's also been issues with people dumping things like diapers, electronics, ash, paint cans, furniture, and household trash.
Call 815-732-4020 or go to oglecounty.org for more information.