Sunday, November 15th marks the 23rd annual America Recycles Day, a nationwide initiative dedicated to increasing awareness and showcasing the accomplishments of recycling. Each year, millions of people are encouraged to “Go Green” by reducing waste, increasing recycling, and purchasing recycled products.
Since 1991, the Oneida-Herkimer Solid Waste Authority (Authority) has recycled over 1 million tons of material. The Authority continually monitors recycling markets to find long term, secure channels for recyclable material. This allows the Authority to provide recycling opportunities for as many materials as possible in an environmentally beneficial and cost-effective manner.
This year, the Authority would like to thank the residents of our two Counties for prioritizing recycling not just on November 15th, but every day of the year. Due to efforts on behalf of our residents, local municipalities, hauling companies and Authority run programs, Oneida & Herkimer Counties have a recycling rate of 52%, significantly higher than the national average of 35%.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, every 10,000 tons of recycled material creates 16 jobs and conserves over 5 billion cubic yards of landfill space. “Every year, the Authority receives around 40,000 tons of recyclables… keeping this material out of our landfill adds up to make a huge difference for our region,” says Emily Albright, Authority Director of Recycling. “Surpassing 1 million tons of recycled material since we opened the doors of our Recycling Center demonstrates the incredible commitment that residents and businesses have to our recycling system,” she continued.
The Authority has a comprehensive recycling and waste management system that encompasses several different programs and facilities that residents and businesses are encouraged to utilize, including:
Green Waste Composting Program – The Authority accepts around 10,000 tons of green waste annually from residents and businesses in our two-county area. This green waste is composted at our 13 acre Green Waste Composting Site in Utica. The Authority’s compost is certified by the US Composting Council’s Seal of Testing Assurance Program, which ensures that our compost has been tested by a third-party laboratory and meets all state and federal environmental requirements. Since the program’s inception in 1997, the Authority has produced over 104,000 yards of high quality finished compost.
Food2Energy – Since first opening in May 2019, the Authority’s food waste diversion program has diverted over 8 million pounds of food waste from the Landfill. This program allows for the collection of source separated food scraps in order to recover that material for energy production which is utilized by Oneida County’s Water Pollution Control Plant.
Household Hazardous Waste Facility – This facility first opened in 1993 and is one of the first permanent facilities in the northeast to recycle paint and accept a full range of Household Hazardous Waste (HHW) for proper disposal. This facility is open annually from April to September, and there is no charge for residents of Oneida & Herkimer Counties to drop off HHW.
Electronics Recycling Program – The Authority accepts electronic waste at both the Utica and Rome EcoDrop six days a week, year-round, free of charge to residents. In 2019, nearly 1.3 million pounds of e-waste was recycled through this program.
RecycleOne Business Program – This program assists businesses, industries, schools and other commercial establishments by providing information on starting and maintaining a recycling program as well as decreasing the volume of waste produced by businesses. As part of this program, the Authority offers a voluntary RecycleOne Business Certification Program which recognizes businesses and industries for taking steps to reduce solid waste, increase recycling and save energy.
Even with these programs and the help of dedicated recyclers in our region, there is still some material that must be landfilled. However, the Authority does produce energy from landfilled waste through its Landfill Gas to Electricity Facility at its Regional Landfill in Ava. Currently, we have over 130 gas wells at the Landfill, which combined draw enough gas to meet the energy needs of more than 3,300 homes per year.
“Despite the unprecedented challenges of this year, our recycling programs and community participation in recycling have remained strong. The Authority would like to thank our residents and businesses for continuing to recycle no matter where they are – at home, school or work,” says Albright. “America Recycles Day is a good time to reflect on what we have been able to accomplish as a community in terms of waste reduction and recycling, and to celebrate the positive impact that these actions have had on our region,” she continued.
For more information on recycling and other Authority programs, please visit www.ohswa.org or contact Emily Albright at (315) 733-1224 Ext. 1600.