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Little room left to waste: County urges restraint as landfill approaches limit

Little room left to waste: County urges restraint as landfill approaches limit

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BLOOMINGTON — The McLean County Landfill will reach its capacity in four years unless something changes.

“That can change if we voluntarily continue to reduce our waste,” said Dan Winters, general manager for Republic Services/Allied Waste, owners of the landfill on Bloomington’s far west side.

In 2011, Normal took 8,779 tons of garbage to the landfill — 10 tons less than in 2010. Bloomington, which tracks its landfill amounts by fiscal year rather than calendar year, contributed 28,400 tons of garbage between May 1, 2010, and April 30, 2011. That’s about 400 tons less than the previous fiscal year.

The landfill is available to any McLean County community.

Winters said there always will be a local place to take solid waste even if the McLean County Landfill reaches capacity. Republic Services has a Bloomington-based solid waste transfer station where garbage can be dumped and then shipped to another landfill.

If the local landfill is full, the waste would have to be trucked out of the county. The closest Republic Services-operated landfill is in Pontiac.

That option also could bring

additional transfer and loading costs, he said. How much cost remains to be seen.

Winters said some high-volume landfills might have lower tipping fees (the amount charged per ton of garbage).

Currently, Bloomington and Normal pay a $41.49-per-ton tipping fee under long-term contracts with Republic Services. The fee will increase to $43.15 per ton on March 1.

Winters said another way to avoid having to truck McLean County garbage to another landfill is to expand the current McLean County site. He would not say whether that is an option that is being explored but did add the process is lengthy so would have to start fairly soon.

Bloomington, Normal, McLean County and the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency all would play roles in the approval process.

Several years ago, the IEPA set state recycling goals in an effort to reduce the amount of solid waste going to landfills. The Illinois Solid Waste Planning and Recycling Act required larger municipalities to create solid waste management plans that include  recycling.

Michael Brown, director of the Normal-based Ecology Action Center that receives funds from Bloomington, Normal and McLean County to educate residents about recycling, said originally the act sought to have communities recycle 15 percent of their solid waste, then increase that to 25 percent. The federal EPA had a goal of recycling 35 percent of waste by 2005.

Brown said in 2010, McLean County was at a 37.5 percent rate. That’s higher than the 35.1 percent rate in 2009 but slightly below the 37.6 percent rate of 2008.

In 2005, the county’s rate was only 30.7 percent.

While recycling is one of the keys, Brown said another is waste reduction.

“Avoid generating the waste to begin with,” he said. “We need to re-evaluate the consumer process from the beginning.”

Brown said the “zero waste” philosophy is starting to be embraced on the commercial level.

“They are coming up with alternatives, changing processes and finding a cost savings,” he said. “We need to educate more on waste reduction.”

Brown said that education will be a major part of the April 14 Illinois Sustainable Living and Wellness Expo at Illinois Wesleyan University’s Shirk Center.

“We are going to be a zero-waste event,” he said.

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