Have you ever wondered if your recycling efforts make a difference? After touring the Delaware County Solid Waste Management Center (DCSWMC) on November 5, 2022, arranged by Tina DeSanto of the Andes Garden Club, my answer would be Yes. The DCSWMC is a facility that is dedicated to ensuring the proper management of our solid waste and was created many years before any of us thought it was necessary. It is difficult to tell of all that happens at this facility since the recycling world, legislation, and the demand for recycled by-products is ever-changing.
This is where Tyson Robb, Solid Waste Coordinator, comes into play. Tyson has such passion for keeping our facility alive and running that he is always trying to find new sources to take on the Center’s products of DCSWMC. Currently, he is talking with cement companies to convince them to begin using glass dust. As of right now, glass is hard to recycle back into bottles or jars, but as an additive to cement it would create an extremely strong product. If his talks are successful, DCSWMC will have another source of revenue to help offset the costs of running and maintaining the facility.
Tyson is just as passionate about finding sources for all of our other recycled items. DCSWMC does an impressive job of keeping its recycle streams clean by partnering with Helping Hands Work Force Solutions to provide workers who sort some of the recycling by hand. These employees are so dedicated to their job that they ensure a high-quality recycle stream. This means DCSWMC is known for having clean, contaminate-free recyclables that are desirable in the recycling by-product world.
I signed up for this tour in a somewhat selfish mode. I had four years’ worth of compostable Nespresso pods from a vendor whose pods are organic, free trade, and supposedly compostable. After several emails to the company, I was still unsure of where to take them, but so committed to finding them a “home” they were included in our move from New Jersey to Andes. When I showed up for the tour I had my giant box of pods with me. I was expecting to be told that they were a material too complex for our rural facility to handle. So you can imagine my surprise when I was told I could: “just throw them in the trash and the composter will take care of them.” This composter is a very large complex machine that was built 17 years ago, long before the invention of compostable plastics, and would reduce my coffee pods into actual, usable compost! While I am sure you all would love a complete description of the “giant composter” at the DCSWMC, not only would it make this article far too long, but I feel I would deprive everyone of the first-hand experience of touring the facility.
Seventeen years ago, we were in the infancy age of recycling when NY State forced Delaware County to plan for managing its solid waste with the idea that the state government would be in charge. Thankfully a group of local farmers with remarkable foresight into the county’s future needs told the state to stand down. These farmers, who had been caring for the land all their lives knew what was needed and designed the Delaware County Solid Waste Management Center. The DCSWMC is a forward-thinking facility run by staff who pride themselves on helping our planet. They are also committed to making sure they contribute funds back into the plant’s operating expenses. The main takeaway from the tour for me was: Your recyclables need to be clean, dry, and loose. Loose means don’t bundle them up in a plastic bag. Clean means a tiny smear of peanut butter or other food is OK, but more than that can pollute a recycle stream. And dry means, don’t store paper and cardboard outdoors exposed to the elements.
A secondary takeaway for most of us on the tour was figuring out what is and isn’t recyclable. DCSWMC, supports a well maintained Facebook page and encourages the community to post questions and concerns so that they may address them. The DCSWMC web page is also a wealth of information. It has several informative videos on how to recycle correctly and a handy tab labeled “What Do I Do With This?” Their website is https://www.delcony.us/departments/sw/sw.htm and on Facebook at https://www.face
book.com/DelCoDPW. Tours for groups of a minimum of 10 can be arranged by phoning Tyson Robb at 607-865-5805. School tours are always welcome. The general public should also keep an eye out for an Open House at DCSWMC sometime in 2023.~