Recycling center in my garage overflowing

Matt Westerhold
Mar 23, 2010


The recyclables in my garage are piling up the same way they pile up at recycling centers across Erie County. The last time I went to the drop-off center at the county building near the fairgrounds off Columbus Avenue, there was no room in the bins and junk was flying with the wind. When centers overflow the recyclables end up in the lawns of neighboring homes. Some residents spend days picking up the trash, and their complaints to the county fell on deaf ears for years. And by that time the recyclables that end up on their lawns are trash. They can't very well take them to the recycling center, now, can they?

I received an e-mail this weekend about the problem at another county recycling location: "The center at Osborn Park is roped off preventing any more drops, and it's overflowing ... I watched several people with loads stop, turn around and leave the place Sunday morning."

Erie County commissioners Pat Shenigo and Bill Monaghan are working to resolve this problem, but they inherited a dysfunctional county government that was abused and mismanaged for 20 years. The county's Sanitary Engineering Department likely is already bankrupt, and the incompetent previous county leadership left Shenigo and Monaghan with a lot to fix. The county's poor excuse of a recycling program is just center stage for now, but I have little doubt the systems of county government are broken across the spectrum of county services.

The good news -- again -- is that at least Shenigo and Monaghan are working on it, and working on the other issues. But don't expect miracles. It took a long time for local government to get this broken; it will take years to get things fixed. They've only just begun.

I started recycling in about 1985, and I remember first reading in the Washington Post about the recycling mandate where I lived. The city of Silver Spring, Maryland, a suburb of Washington, would require residents to put glass, tin and plastic recyclables in one container, and newspapers in a second one and leave those containers out front on trash pickup day. Ridiculous, I thought. There was just no way I was going to separate my garbage.

But I did, and recycling became second nature to me.

In Lorain County, where the populations is about five times the population of Erie County, there has been curbside recycling for years. If it's possible there, why wasn't it possible here?



Oliver Hardy

I get the following quite often: "Your submission has triggered the spam filter and will not be accepted."

No "security image" was provided to get past the spam filter.

bill ney

    Just a quick note, that, in my opinion, The Register's online product --- at least the free versions --- recycles stories too much. That's it.  thanks


If the new commisioners inherited a dysfunctional county government that was abused and mismanaged for 20 years, why weren't the overflowing recycling stations an issue until just recently? What has changed since the new commisioners got elected?


Recycling is not a new issue in Erie County. Those of us living in the shadows of the "money pit" called the Erie County Landfill have questioned a lack of leadership in this area for many years. Simply, the leader of Erie County Environmental Services, Mr. Jack Meyers, is diametrically opposed to recyling. Simply, the dump makes more money to bury our environmental problems than to recycle them.

The Erie County Dump has grown for one reason only, to be able to pay for the expensive monitoring of the initial three cells that were installed without safeguards to watch for contamination from the liquid industrial wastes received in the first twenty five years of existance. It costs a lot to manipulate science to show that there are no problems (even thought he dump is a "Listed Site" with Superfund.)

Now, to pay for the tens of millions of dollars in investment in the dump, they need to bury waste. Building "Mount Meyers" is expensive, and when you're selling "storage space" for trash, you can't be diverting trash back into a stream where the materials can be reused.

A few years back, Barnes Nursery wanted to compost organic materials from Erie County, in essense routing reusable materials for a benefit versus burying them in the dump. The response from Erie County was not positive. The process would "rob" Erie County of much-needed cash to run the dump. The result, Barnes would have to pay for the organics.

That's not leadership, that's protectionism. If Erie County recycled more, they wouldn't need to build a bigger and better dump. That was a vision lost.