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Lawton abandoning recycling bins, looks for alternatives

Courtesy of Samuel Madelyn Martinez Courtesy of Samuel Madelyn Martinez

LAWTON, Okla._The City of Lawton is abandoning its latest attempt at recycling after repeated problems with citizens using the public bins as trash dumpsters.

There are recycling bins in five parks across town where people can bring plastic, cardboard or aluminum. The city had a contract with a local company to haul that material away. But at the last council meeting, that contract was canceled after city leaders concluded that the constant battle over keeping the sites clear of household trash was a waste of manpower and money.

The recycling bins will be removed August 15. Lawton City Manager Jerry Ihler says the problem with people throwing their trash in these recycle bins has been a growing issue for at least the last six months.

The sign clearly says ‘No Dumping,’ but Ihler says not everyone is listening and the recycling sites are filling with non-recyclable garbage.

"They've been bringing mattresses, scrap wood, debris tree limbs, which we are not recycling at these locations," Ihler explained.

With all of the garbage getting mixed in with the recyclable materials, it is contaminating what can actually be recycled. Ihler says it is nothing but money wasted, because once the crews from Horn Recycling see the abundance of trash, they don't even attempt to separate it.  It all goes to the dump.

"That means we are actually paying that company to pick up the trash that is at the recycle facility to take it to the landfill when we can just pick it up at the home," Ihler said.

Ihler says the city is not giving up on recycling. He says the Lawton City Council thinks it is important for our community, they just have to figure out another way to get the community on board.

"Environmentally, it is the right thing to do. In addition, when you compare the life of our current landfill, any amount we can recycle and not throw in the landfill will extend the life of our landfill," Ihler explained.

Ihler says that in the next City Council meeting, they are going to request proposals on other recycling alternatives. One possibility is the city creating its own recycling facility, which would include curbside pickup. Or if the city doesn't want to build its own facility, they could still set aside one day a week to take recyclables from homes to a commercial recycling site.

The city will remove the fencing that currently surrounds the recycling bins when the bins are removed on August 15.

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