The Richmond Sanitary District began a curbside cardboard recycling program in December of 2021. In 2022, more than 200 tons of cardboard were recycled in Richmond. Since Forward Wayne County is focused on our Environment this month, we asked Pat Smoker, Director of the Richmond Sanitary District, to share a bit about the program and how residents can get involved!

Pat Smoker, Director of the Richmond Sanitary District

Origins of the Program

While cardboard recycling has been a part of the Richmond Sanitary District for several years, it historically was an item that was dropped off at the landfill. However, with the increase of cardboard in circulation due to online shopping, the District saw an opportunity.

“Our goal is to always divert material from the landfill where possible,” shared Pat Smoker, Director of the Richmond Sanitary District. “We felt, by making cardboard collection curbside, we could capture more of this material. We put out a survey to the public to poll this specifically, and the survey supported our thoughts.”

In early 2020, the District applied for a Market Development grant. This grant covered 50% of the cost for a truck for the collection of cardboard, along with 2,000 tan containers.

Benefits and Impact of Cardboard Recycling

“For 2022, we recycled 206.09 tons of cardboard in total. Some of that 206 tons is from commercial sources, which is separate from the new curbside program,” Smoker added.

However, when comparing the amount of cardboard collected at the landfill to the amount collected from the curbside program, there was nearly a 100% increase in collection.

“In a larger perspective on recycling, Richmond does not generate a ‘lot’. As such, the District contracts out to a 3rd party to broker all of our recycled material. They supplement their sold material with our generated material and offer us a rebate on our contribution. Our product, then, ends up with various companies. Mainly, cardboard is recycled down to chipboard, which is used in cereal boxes and things of that nature.”

“Land is always a commodity, and we want to preserve land for other uses besides landfills. Beyond that general environmental stance, the New Paris Pike landfill has a limited life span, which is approximately 50 years at its current loading. The longer we can extend the life of the landfill, the lower rates will be for Richmond citizens.

In addition to saving space at landfills, it is more environmentally sustainable to reuse cardboard rather than creating the same product from raw material.

Click here to see an article from the EPA regarding the circular economy and national recycling data.

What should Richmond residents know about cardboard recycling?

Each community that offers cardboard recycling has different guidelines on their own program, and Richmond is no different.

  • Participating residents must break down brown corrugated cardboard boxes to no larger than 17″X17″X36″.
  • Larger corrugated cardboard pieces (television, appliances, etc.) that are not broken down will continue to be accepted at the New Paris Pike landfill at the cardboard bin to be recycled.
  • Additionally, please remove all packing materials. Styrofoam to green Rosie Roller; Plastic film/bags to stores that recycle plastic grocery bags (Needlers, Meijer, Kroger, Walmart)
An example of corrugated cardboard, which has “wavy” material in the middle.

What else does the Richmond Sanitary District have to offer?

“The District, with significant help and partnering with Wayne Union Recycle (WUR), is actively looking towards landfill diversion opportunities to better align with the EPA’s recently published recycling strategies and national goals.”

The Sanitary District is currently reviewing construction and demolition recycling. Additionally, they are looking to increase residential recycling in Richmond and the surrounding communities, and expand commercial recycling as a whole.

In addition to cardboard, the District collects in their blue recycling bins: glass, #1 and #2 plastics, aluminum and steel food and beverage cans, and paper (chipboard, newspaper, magazines, etc). If you don’t have a recycling bin, all of this material can also be dropped off at the recycle tubs at the New Paris Pike landfill. The landfill also has the ability to collect larger ferrous metal items (metal that contain iron). Click here to see the recycling guidelines for the district.

Richmond residents interested in participating in the cardboard recycling program can call the District at 765-983-7456.

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