Baler increases recycling capacity

"Photo: Carol Weide loads cardboard boxes onto the conveyer that feeds Island Recycling's new baler.Matt Johnson/staff photoEvery year, Southenders dispose of more and more recyclable materials at Freeland's Island Recycling. And never once have the business' owners, Dave and Jill Campbell, complained.Well, now they are, but the complaint is that they are not getting enough paper, cardboard, aluminum cans and other recyclables going through the recycling center. Earlier this year, the Campbells purchased a new baling machine for their recyclables, increasing the processing and shipping capacity by up to four times. Dave Campbell said he can now carry three to four times the volume of newspapers on his truck than he was able to last year because instead of toting a large, metal container full of loose paper, he can stack bales wide and high.It'll save us a lot on fuel, Campbell said.Fuel savings are nice, but they will not make up for the $60,000 cost of the baler. That is why Island Recycling needs to take in more recyclable materials. Jill Campbell said materials are probably out there, as evidenced by the steady annual tonnage increases she has recorded over the years. For example, in 1999 South Whidbey residents recycled 158.94 tons of cardboard, compared to 126.43 tons in 1998. Newsprint experienced an even bigger jump, from 139.85 tons in 1998 to 207.61 tons in 1999.To push those totals even higher, the Campbells are encouraging South Whidbey businesses to bring in more of their recyclable waste. Businesses that recycle their office paper, cardboard, and even the pop cans and bottles employees drink from at lunch not only help the environment and Island Recycling, but can help their own bottom line by cutting garbage fees.The new baler is also saving Island Recycling work hours. In the past, it could take an entire day to bale the cardboard in a full container from the Bayview Transfer Station -- which has all its recyclables processed by Island Recycling. With the baler, the same job takes an hour.It's been a long time in coming, Jill Campbell said.As it has with a number of projects at Island Recycling, Island County has a financial stake in the baler. County recycling coordinator Jerry Mingo said the county paid for the electrical refit for the baler and for some concrete work at its base. The county pays Island Recycling a tonnage rate for its recyclables in addition to what the business receives from recycled paper, cardboard, glass, plastic, and metal processors.The Campbells hope South Whidbey households will recycle more in 2000 than they have before. But with the new baler, there are some new material separation instructions at the business. Those dropping off recyclables are asked to pay particular attention when separating corrugated cardboard from box board, and when recycling plastics."

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