ALLEN COUNTY, Ind. (WANE) — The Allen County Department of Environmental Management is still looking for a replacement for its recycling drop-off site it had to close last August.
Its previous site in south Fort Wayne was at Southgate Plaza behind the Kroger. The property owners notified the county last year they no-longer wished to play host to a recycling trailer.
Since then, the department’s director Tom Fox told WANE 15 they haven’t been able to work out a suitable replacement despite multiple attempts.
“There aren’t that many areas that are accommodating to that kind of facility, and then trying to find somebody who’s willing to let us do that, join in a partnership has been a challenge,” Fox said.
Fox points to the fact that most pieces of land are now owned by out-of-state corporations or property management groups that aren’t concerned about a local recycling program.
When Southgate was closed the last five months of 2022, a nearby recycling drop-off site run by Republic Services on Pontiac Street saw a 30% increase in materials.
Fox said it’s hard to look at the numbers and see a direct correlation because Red River Waste Solutions was still in Fort Wayne for the first half of 2022.
He said if they aren’t able to secure a new location in south Fort Wayne, they may have to look at growth patterns around the county and see if there’s another area that needs the recycling trailer.
Fox told WANE 15 they’d like to avoid that because they’ve had their trailers in the same general areas for 30 years as a way to provide a recycling option to those who don’t receive curbside service.
While the county lost the Southgate location in 2022, they also closed their former Stellhorn Village drop-off site in 2021.
The two losses could be part of the reason why the county’s recycling drop-off sites collected 100 fewer tons of material in 2022 than in 2021, according to Fox.
He hopes that isn’t a sign that people are throwing recyclable materials away and it means they’re finding other places to recycle.
“[Recycling] also helps the environment in general. We don’t have to use up as many new resources if we can recycle,” Fox said. “If you can reuse a glass bottle or aluminum can and recycle that material rather than getting new material out of the Earth or wherever, it helps to prolong the resources that we do have, and that’s what sustainability is all about.”
Fox added that if people are throwing away their recycling, it means the landfill will fill up quicker.
He pointed out that landfills only have a lifespan of a few decades and once they fill up, they can no longer be used.
Fox said the process of finding land that can be used as a new landfill is a very tough process, so he’d like to make sure people do their part and recycle.