Frankfort and Franklin County solid waste officials say that both local governments are exploring other ways to repurpose paper products.
Earlier this month, the City of Lexington's recycling plant suddenly stopped accepting paper products from its affiliate partners, which include Frankfort and Franklin County. Lexington said that the change went into effect immediately because outlets that buy recycled materials from Lexington were only taking "limited amounts due to an overabundance of material in domestic markets," a press release said at the time.
Franklin County Solid Waste Coordinator Blair Hecker said that current recycle standards will stay the same for at least the next few months. The county currently has no other financially viable option for paper.
"This is part of a national problem, so there really aren’t any other strong paper markets we could utilize currently," Hecker said.
She added that she thinks this will be a short-term change as new paper mills are expected to open later this year, which should open the market for recycled paper.
Frankfort Division of Solid Waste Superintendent Byron Roberts said that the city has looked at other facilities to accept its recycle materials. It did find one, which he did not name, that would take all of Frankfort's recycle material, but it would be an increase of almost four times the cost of what the city currently pays for recycling.
"We are currently discussing how we want to proceed with any changes to the recycling program," Roberts told The State Journal in an email.
One local resident asked The State Journal if Benson Valley Landfill could turn part of the facility into a compost site and sell that at cost to consumers. Both Hecker and Roberts said that since the landfill is privately owned, that is the landfill's choice and not the governments'. Roberts said that for the city to separate paper from other recyclable material, there would be a high initial equipment cost and the expense to maintain the facility correctly would be costly.
Hecker said that the county is investigating using its livestock compost pad that opened in 2015 to accept paper compost. She said that the second phase of the county's pilot program for the compost pad, which is slated to start this fall or next spring, will have more options for residents to drop off compost. She said the county is looking at how it could accept paper if the market has not changed by then.
Both Hecker and Roberts offered suggestions for citizens to repurpose paper material at home. Roberts said paper material can be composted in gardens or compost bins along with yard clippings and leaves. He also suggested subscribing to electronic forms of newspapers, magazines and catalogs as well as using emailed statements and bills to cut back on paper use.
Hecker also said that paper is "a great addition" to home composting. To learn more about composting, the Franklin County Master Recyclers will host a Compost Workshop at the Paul Sawyier Public Library on Tuesday, June 11, at 6 p.m. The Master Recyclers are part of a community education group created by the county's Solid Waste Department whose participants take a 12-week course with Hecker in which they volunteer and become certified waste management volunteers or liaisons.
Hecker said that in an effort to communicate about recycling, the county is launching a weekly waste tip social media campaign, which will have a new post about cutting down on paper usage or ways to reuse it.