When Jim Lambert, director of the Monroe County Municipal Waste Management Authority is asked about how to run a successful recycling center and transfer station, he tells them, "Go see Chestnuthill Township. It's a gem."
And because it is such a "gem", Professional Recyclers of Pennsylvania named Chestnuthill Township as a recipient of the 2013 Waste Watcher Award, .
Today is America Recycles Day, and the township stresses the importance of recycling.
For instance, do you know how long it takes for litter items to break down? Cigarette butts 1-5 years; plastic coated paper 5 years; plastic bags 10-20 years; nylon fabric 30-40 years; plastic six pack holders 100 years; aluminum cans 500 years; glass bottles 1,000 years; plastic bottles indefinitely. The message here is to recycle them.
"This township takes more items than any other curb side recycling program. I don't see how you have any trash left in the township. I tout this township to everyone and tell them to go see you. You do a wonderful job," Lambert said when he presented the award to Chestnuthill Township.
David Albright, Chestnuthill Township manager, explains that the township has a Pay As You Throw program, an incentive to recycle because what can't be recycled goes in solid waste and the residents pay per bag of garbage.
The recycling the township does includes: paper shredding (on Wednesdays you can come and watch your private documents being shredded); electronics; Styrofoam, fluorescent bulbs; freon removal; glass; appliances; metals and much more.
The operational building has a baler that compacts paper, aluminum cans and plastic and ties the bales with wire. The market right now is not real good for rigid plastic so the township stores it until the value goes higher. They weigh all the bales.
"We get our best prices when we can fill a truck with one particular item," says Albright.
The township received a grant for the building, the baler and the shredder. They added the loading dock which makes it easier to load the bales on the trucks.
The center accepts treated lumber, painted and stained wood items and flake board along with leaves, branches and dead garden plants. These are ground up and taken to the township's compost pile. In the spring and the fall, the piles are moved until it is ready for mulch. The compost, when ready, is available to township residents at no charge and the township uses it for landscaping.
There is a Salvation Army box where people can drop off clothing and items that are still usable.
The township employs five workers from Burnley Employment Services at the center.
"There is a direct benefit to the residents for recycling. The more you recycle, the less you have to pay to dispose. We're always trying to add more items that the residents can recycle at no cost," says Albright.
The recycling program was started in 1982 and continues to keep as much garbage out of landfills as they can.