Lewis County’s ‘Recycle Reset’ Deemed a Success


Lewis County’s 2021 “Recycle Reset” program has proven a success. 

At the county’s transfer stations, residents have been newly required to sort their own recycling and haven’t been able to recycle plastics. The pandemic-era program aimed to reduce contamination in recycling. The stats so far are promising. 

From May to June of this year, none of those recyclables have had to be thrown away. And compared to the year prior, there was a 74% reduction in recyclables having to be trashed, along with a 73% reduction in the cost of processing the recycling. Revenue surged 320%. 

“We had a feeling that things were going a lot better, but once you sit down and actually look at the numbers, it’s just very heartening to know our hard work is really paying off,” Recycling Program Coordinator Melanie Case recently told county commissioners. “And we’ll be doing some things to continue this effort.”

In a perfect world, Case told The Chronicle, the transfer stations would still be accepting plastic recycling. That program will likely resume in the future. But Lewis County needed to “get back to the basics,” Case said, after residents continued to chuck in non-recyclable plastics: kiddie pools, entire lawn chairs, tires, tarps and more.

The reset program did prompt some angry phone calls from hardcore recyclers. 

“They would just be so mad that a few people ruined it for everybody. And I totally get that,” Case said. 

Perhaps some of those unskilled recyclers were genuinely confused, although staff members suspect many were “sneaky,” trying to pass off garbage as recycling to save money. 

The transfer stations’ revenue bump is partly due to good market conditions: Pandemic-induced shortages in things like aluminum cans have increased demand for recycled materials, for example. 

Learn about recycling options at Lewis County’s transfer stations here: https://tinyurl.com/53b28rhe.