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Rock Island County recycling drop-off site closure causing community pushback

"If the drop off sites need to be closed, they need to be looking at other options to expand recycling."

EAST MOLINE, Ill. — Community members in Rock Island County are pushing back against the Rock Island County Waste Management Agency’s decision to cancel the free recycling drop off sites.

The RICWMA says the program has to be cancelled due to funding issues. Members with the Progressive Action for the Common Good are now asking the agency to reconsider the program, or at the least other options for recycling in the county. 

Olivia Dorothy works with the organization. “If the county decides that it just can’t keep the facilities open, closing them without providing residents any opportunity to figure out another option is not acceptable,” says Dorothy.

The decision to shut the sites down was made back in July. Representatives with the agency say the funding for the program comes directly from tipping fees at the landfill. The money is made based off the total amount of garbage dumped each year. With COVID-19, representatives say there was less garbage brought into the landfill resulting in less money for the program.

Dorothy said she would would like to see a conversation happen between community members and the agency to see what else could be done to make recycling more accessible. 

"I think that we can explore possibly consolidating the drop off facilities," she said. "We could look at expanding curbside programs.”

RICWMA is recommending residents in Rock Island County bring their recyclables across the river to the Waste Commission of Scott County. 

Megan Fox, who works for the Waste Commission, said the commission has planned for the potential influx. 

She says once the switch happens, they will evaluate from there saying, “We have transportation staff, that manage and document the drop off. So, they will be looking at that tonnage and setting the schedule as appropriate.”

Recyclable materials from the drop sites in Rock Island have always gone to the Waste Commission of Scott County. The difference now is that instead of being taken across the river once the recycle bins from the site are full, residents will have to cross the river to dispose of their recyclables.

“We don’t see an influx of actual material," said Fox, "but what we do see is maybe an influx in our drop-off locations, having more participants there.”

However, for Dorothy it’s about the convenience of an Illinois location. 

“I live in East Moline," explained Dorothy. "I think it takes us like half an hour to get over to the recycling center.” She hopes these closures don’t deter Illinois residents from recycling altogether.

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