The fifth annual Meigs County Cleanup Day was completed on Saturday, May 20 with the help of many volunteers, organizations and government offices.
Preparation for the event began in 2016 with the county receiving a Litter Management Grant from the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency. Organizing the event and providing matching funds for the grant was provided by the Meigs County Commissioners and Grants Office, the Meigs County Soil and Water Conservation Office, the GJMV Solid Waste District and the Meigs County Health Department. Costs for the five-hour event were estimated to be over $20,000.
The initial accounts of day included the collection of an estimated 60 to 70 tons of solid waste, over 1600 scrap tires, 20 to 25 tons of scrap metal and over 70 boxes of documents were shredded. The number of vehicles that went through the line was estimated to be more than 360. More than 50 volunteers worked non-stop to help unload the vehicles. The event organizers were very appreciative of the volunteers’ hard work and dedication and for the funding provided by the Ohio EPA.
The event was free to all residents of Meigs County and was held at the fairgrounds. Residents had the opportunity to discard household items such as old furniture, televisions, toys, carpet, appliances, building materials and mattresses/box springs. Scrap tires and scrap metal items were collected for recycling purposes. The scrap tires collected are to be processed by cutting down to various sizes. Small bits of scrap tires, referred to as crumb rubber will become the ideal raw material for a wide variety of applications, including molded rubber goods and adhesives. Larger pieces can be used for civil engineering applications as a substitute for gravel. Other sizes of processed scrap tires are incorporated into a number of industrial, athletic fields, paving and landscaping applications. The scrap metal and electronics collected at the event contained steel, iron, lead, aluminum, copper, stainless steel, zinc and other precious metals. Steel is North America’s number one recycled material.
According to the Steel Recycling Institute, there is more steel recycled than paper, aluminum, glass and plastic combined. The use of scrap steel lowers the environmental impact of steelmaking, as well as the total cost of producing new steel. Recycling electronics can recover and reuse precious metals that are costly to mine and manufacture. According to the US EPA, recycling one million laptops saves the energy equivalent to the electricity used by more than 3,500 US homes in a year.
For every million cell phones we recycle, 35 thousand pounds of copper, 772 pounds of silver, 75 pounds of gold and 33 pounds of palladium can be recovered. Recycling events like the ‘Cleanup Day’ happen in most Ohio counties and cities, but typically only once or twice a year. Everyone is encouraged to continue to recycle items throughout the year at many of the drop off sites located in Meigs, Gallia, Jackson and Vinton counties. Items accepted for recycling are newspapers, magazines, catalogs, office paper, junk mail, phone books, cardboard boxes, plastic bottles, tin, steel and aluminum cans, and glass bottles. There is nine drop off sites within Meigs County. There are also scrap metal recycling centers in Middleport and Gallipolis.
As reported by the Ohio EPA, on average there is less than 30 years in remaining capacity of Ohio’s publicly available municipal solid waste landfills. Cost for disposing household garbage will likely rise when solid waste companies will have to transport garbage to landfills outside of the state. Recycling will become a bigger part of our everyday lives in the near future. To learn more about how you can recycle contact the Meigs County Soil and Water Conservation Office or the Meigs County Health Department.
Steve Swatzel is a registered sanitarian and director of dnvironmental health for the Meigs County Health Department.