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Number of recycling bins dwindle in Sunnyside

Over the course of time, the number of full recycling drop off bins in Sunnyside has dwindled from 10 down to three.

That's because of a problem with illegal dumping, said Scott Robertson, Yakima Waste Systems Manager.

"There are fewer than there used to be because there's been illegal dumping at the sites," he said. "It's disappointing that a few people ruin it for everyone."

Robertson said things like studded snow tires and hot water tanks were being left at the sites. This is problematic because those who host the recycling sites do so voluntarily.

The three full sites, located at Wal-Mart, the Law and Justice Center and the Christian Reformed Church in Sunnyside, accept newspapers, clean mixed waste paper (paper that isn't foil or wax) and aluminum, tin cans and number one and two plastics. Number one plastics are items like clear water bottles or clear soda bottles. Number two plastics are items like milk jugs.

Robertson said Yakima Waste Systems also helps small businesses by allowing them to have a recycling container for custom recycling. It's called "co-mingles" and Yakima Waste Systems sorts the recyclables for the business before sending them on to a recycling facility.

"We offer it as a customer service sort of thing," said Robertson.

He said that Sunnyside doesn't have a municipal code mandating recycling and that for towns that do, it's hard to enforce. He said his company offers recycling simply for customer service.

He said Yakima Waste Systems offers curb-side recycling in some communities, but not here. "We would if there was enough interest in it," he said.

Robertson said there doesn't appear to be a huge interest at this time in Sunnyside in recycling. But, he said, "It's going to change over time. People will come around to it."

Yakima County's Public Service Solid Waste Division is currently using grant funds to help get the word out by state mandated event recycling. According to program coordinator Mikal Heintz, the state legislature passed a bill effective July 2007 which mandates that items be recycled following an event.

She said the county is currently working with every high school and every middle school in Yakima County to get recycle bins established.

Because of the new legislation, fair-goers will notice 150 recycle bins at the Central Washington State Fair this year.

Heintz said it's important to note that it's not up to the county to decide what kind of recycling is available, rather, it's up to individual communities.

She said there is no charge to drop off newspapers, cardboard, magazines, aluminum, and number one and two plastics at each of the county's landfills and transfer station.

She also said that one little known fact is that residents can drop off hazardous household waste, like paint, batteries, and fluorescent light bulbs, at the landfills and transfer station free of charge.

When it comes to paint, Heintz said that a lot of people don't know what to do with what's left over. Yakima County actually donates left over paint that has been dropped off to a program that works to paint over graffiti.

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