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Rock Island County residents fight to bring back drop-off recycling sites

The Rock Island County Waste Management Agency closed its four drop-off recycling sites in September 2021 citing a drop in tipping fees to pay for the service.

ROCK ISLAND COUNTY, Ill. — A group of Rock Island County residents is asking the Rock Island County Waste Management Agency to restore its free drop-off recycling sites.

In September 2021, RICWMA closed its four drop-off sites in Rock Island, Moline, East Moline and Milan, citing a significant drop in tipping fees to pay for the service. The tipping fee is money made from dumpsters being emptied at the landfill, and the agency had said less trash came into the landfill throughout the year.

When the decision to close the sites was made last summer, some residents were not happy because the drop-off sites were the only option for those without curbside recycling. Even though curbside pick-up is available for most municipal residents, it's not available to rural residents and to those living in multiple-resident properties, such as apartment buildings or senior living complexes.

Phillip Dennis, the chairman of the "Bring Back the Bins" group, said about 30% of the county's population doesn't have access to recycling without the drop-off sites.

"For example, in Rock Island, 70% or 10,000 residences do not have curbside recycling," Dennis said. "We could save our Earth, we could save money in the production process and be a better citizen."

RICWMA will vote on its 2023 budget on Tuesday, June 21 at 1 p.m. Members of "Bring Back the Bins" plan to be in attendance to ask the agency to amend its budget to include the drop-off sites.

"For us, it's a significant date to make or break the idea of having blue bin, free, public, county-wide recycling on the Illinois side," Dennis said.

There are two lines in the budget, each for $40,000, for "County-wide Waste Resources Outreach" and "Drop-off Recycling Fund," according to Dennis. He said they want RICWMA to designate the $80,000 to the existing "Drop-off Site Subsidy" line item.

The group of residents plan to ask RICWMA to use the funds to offer subsidies to two vendors to operate two free drop-off recycling sites on private land.

"Midland Davis of Moline is currently working to operate a county-wide recycling site, and I think another vendor is also interested in doing that as well," Dennis said. "We're saying let's subsidize these private vendors who are opening their properties for recyclables and give them a boost to help... so make the decision while you have the money to help out private vendors to get the job done."

RICWMA is not an agency within Rock Island County's budget or control.

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