You Asked: How do the city and county’s recycling programs work?

A recycling truck sits at the City of Frankfort Recycling Center on Rouse Avenue Thursday afternoon. Both Franklin County and Frankfort residents can use curbside recycling bins to get rid of waste in an environmentally friendly way. (Chanda Veno | State Journal)

Both Franklin County and Frankfort residents can use curbside recycling bins to get rid of waste in an environmentally friendly way.

This week, a reader asked the State Journal how the city’s and county’s recycling programs work and what kinds of materials residents can give to the programs.

The city or county collects the materials once a week and then sort through the items before re-packing them and sending them to Lexington, where the materials are sorted again and processed. After that, the Lexington recycling plant sells the materials to companies who will reuse them. The profit is split among “affiliate members” of the Lexington recycling center. Both the city and county are affiliate members of the Lexington recycling center, said Blair Owens Hecker, Franklin County’s solid waste coordinator.

While recycling does have economic benefits, Hecker said that thinking about the revenue from recyclables is only one small incentive.

“We are making a commitment to a larger system,” Hecker said.

Hecker said that the county pays $13.60 per household for trash and recycling and it receives a 5 percent reduction franchise fee. Bryan Roberts, Frankfort’s superintendent of the Division of Solid Waste, said that he did not know the price per household for the city at presstime. Both the city and county use Central Kentucky Hauling to pick up and send recycling to the Lexington Plant, which is operated by the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government. Central Kentucky Hauling is privately owned by Waste Services of the Bluegrass and its president is Todd Skaggs, according to the website.

The Lexington plant’s processing determines what can be recycled. The products it can accept are:

  • Most types of paper, like junk mail, magazines and newspapers
  • Glass food and drink containers
  • Cardboard and fiberboard
  • Aluminum and steel cans, like vegetable or soup cans
  • Plastic bottles

Some of these categories do have some caveats. Hecker said that fiberboard cannot be the kind that goes in the refrigerator or freezer. Most of the time, this kind of fiberboard is found on frozen meals, and it cannot be recycled due to how it was treated to protect the food. Hecker added that the recycling program does not accept tissue paper, toilet paper or paper towels because of how the paper was treated as well.

Hecker said plastic bottles prompt the most questions. The Lexington plant only takes plastic bottles that have necks and are screwtops. She said that if you can answer yes to the questions, “Is this a bottle or jug?” and, “Does it have a narrow neck?” then it is probably accepted.

Roberts said that plastic bags, styrofoam and coat hangers are three of the most common items that the city cannot accept. These can get caught in the Lexington plant’s machines and cause a lot of damage, he said. Roberts also noted that any medical waste, like IV bags or tubing, or garden hoses cannot be recycled.

Robert said that the city has an ordinance that requires both trash and recycling bins to be three feet apart when they are left out for pick up. This is because the city uses automated trucks with one driver.

Both the city and county provide recycle bins to residents, Roberts and Hecker said. For city residents who want a bin or have recycling questions, they can either call the department of Public Works at 502-352-2088, the Division of Sewer at 502-875-8527 or check the city government’s Facebook page, Roberts said. County residents can contact Hecker at 502-875-8751 for bins or questions.

“We are trying to make it simple to understand,” Roberts said.

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