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January 17, 2021

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Will Hardin County get a landfill?

Future of refuse in our district

By Liz Gordon-Hancock
Part 4 of the Icon's recycling series

Hardin County is part of the North Central Ohio Waste Management District (NCOWM). We are one of the largest waste districts in the state, consisting of Hardin, Allen, Champaign, Madison, Union and Shelby counties. There are currently 52 waste districts in Ohio.

Our district operates two recycling centers, one in Shelby County and one in Marysville. The Marysville center is the biggest district-owned facility in the state. These two facilities, along with the district's main office in Lima, provide household hazardous waste recycling to residents only and e-waste recycling to residents and businesses.

Our district is the only one in Ohio that has a mobile hazardous waste truck, which travels to the Hardin Champaign and Madison counties, which do not have a permanent facility to dispose of hazardous or electronic waste.

The Icon continues their interview with Dennis Baker, Executive Director of NCOWM district, about the future of refuse in our area, and how the waste management industry might change. For Part 1 of this interview, click here.

Will Hardin County ever get a landfill?

No - I don't foresee that happening in the near future. You would have better luck playing the lotto then siting a landfill in our district. They really do need a landfill up in this area. It would make refuse in Hardin County cheaper, because people don't have to haul it elsewhere. Landfills are closing or filling up. Someday it's going to be a problem. 

Why won't the county get a landfill?

Landfills don't get sited (i.e. no one wants it in their backyard). It's up to the district and city commissioners to decide the site for new landfills.  People will not vote for it in their county.

The closest landfill (from Lima, our district office) is in Bellefontaine; it’s 30 miles away.  Once Bellefontaine closes, then the next closest landfill is in Findlay, which is 45 miles away (from Lima). That distance makes it a little hard for front-end and rear-load garbage trucks to travel to. That trip would take over an hour to get there, plus 30-45 minutes inside the landfill to discharge the load of waste, and then another hour driving back. That driver spent over three hours being a truck driver rather than picking up refuse and making money. A transfer station would be the next best choice to use. But it will cost him [the driver] twice as much to discharge his load at a transfer station then at a landfill, because now the transfer station will have to store your refuse in a 53-foot tractor trailer, then to a landfill for final disposal.

So where will our refuse go in the future?

There will be a need for landfills and transfer stations in the future. There has not been a landfill sited in Ohio since I’ve been in the business (30 years) but a lot of landfills have closed. The current and future landfills will grow higher or vertical in size. When more landfills close, they will be replaced with transfer stations. Transfer stations use tractor trailers that are designed for over-the-road hauling and can haul 20 tons, where a garbage truck can only legally haul up to 12 tons and are not designed for long hauls over the road to a landfill.

Will we ever ship our waste up into space?

No - it would cost too much money. Maybe if it would head toward the sun and get burned up. I think there's too much refuse up there already, from what I hear.

How do you see the waste management industry changing?

Manufacturers need to be more responsible for what they do. TV manufacturers can't sell a TV and say it's now the owner's problem (to recycle or dispose of it). Manufacturers need to share the responsibility of recycling their products with their customers. Electronic waste components contain lead, cadmium, mercury, and brominated flame retardants – compounds known to be hazardous to humans and to the environment. Circuit Boards contain heavy metals such as antimony, silver, chromium, zinc, lead, tin, and copper. New flat screen TVs are no better for the environment then the older ones. The old TVs contain toxic materials (listed above) and the new TVs (during manufacturing) releases a greenhouse gas called nitrogen difluoride which is 17,000 times more potent than carbon dioxide.

One of the best services the district provides is household hazardous waste recycling. There are no companies in Hardin (or Allen) Counties that want to provide this type of service because the cost to households would be so expensive. That is why the district (a government agency) is providing this service because we are not doing it for a profit. The district charges $1.00 a pound (for most products) that covers most of our costs. The chemicals found in your homes are bad to very dangerous. That helps to protect the homeowners who live there, the fireman that arrives at a home fire, and it helps keep mercury and other hazardous materials from reaching the wastewater treatment plant. One good thing is the EPA has stopped the manufacturing and sales of some chemicals that years ago were sold at stores.  

If you would like to hear more, Dennis Baker will be speaking at the upcoming Transition Bluffton event on Tuesday, 21 August at the third floor of Bluffton's Town Hall at 7 p.m. All are welcome to attend.