Medora Recycling Center facility now open for business

MEDORA

Officials with Rumpke Waste & Recycling unveiled the company’s newest investment in recycling — the Medora Recycling Center — on Wednesday.

“Over the past seven years, our company has invested more than $50 million in recycling,” Bill Rumpke III said of the opening of the center expected to open up recycling opportunities to underserved rural areas.

“The Medora Recycling Center is another example of the major investment and infrastructure needed to make recycling available for the region,” said Rumpke, a company vice president.

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The center, which has a price tag of more than $150,000 and will require three employees to operate, was made possible by a public-private partnership between the company and the Indiana Department of Environmental Management, Rumpke said.

“When my great-grandfather, who was a hog farmer, started this company in 1932, I believe he had a vision for the future of the recycling industry,” Rumpke said. “Even in the 1930s, he would remove glass and metals for recycling, so the concept was much the same as today.”

Debbie Hackman, executive director of the Jackson County Solid Waste Management District, spoke during the ceremony and said about 30 percent of Americans have access to curbside recycling.

“Because of this new facility, 100 percent of Jackson County residents now have access to curbside recycling, so we are way, way above the average,” she said.

Seymour already has its own recycling program, and Rumpke works with Brownstown and Crothersville to offer curbside recycling. With the center’s opening, curbside recycling will be available countywide.

Hackman said she is encouraged by the expansion of recycling through Rumpke, and it gives her faith there is a very bright future in recycling.

“I’m asked so often if there is a future in recycling, and I say there is because I think it’s the future of society,” she said. “I have a sign on my wall that says, ‘We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, but we borrow it from our children.'”

Rumpke’s roots in recycling in Jackson County began in January 1994 in Uniontown and then closed in December 1996 because of a lack of volume.

“The company opened up a small recycling center in a maintenance garage at what had been the Uniontown Landfill,” said Steve Sargent, director of recycling for Rumpke Waste & Recycling.

“One of the changes since Uniontown is single-stream recycling,” he said. “This is a system in which paper, plastics, cans, bottles and cardboard are consolidated in a collection truck, then processed in a larger venue and has revolutionized our industry.”

Other changes since the center was in place in Uniontown include market development with an increase in domestic consumers for recyclables and also improved quality of materials.

The paper collected in the county is baled, processed by employees and sent up to Pratt Paper in Valparaiso. The boxes made there could end up back in Jackson County in a matter of weeks, Sargent said.

Glass makes up about 15 to 20 percent by weight of what Rumpke picks up every day from its curbside programs, he said.

“The glass starts out here in Medora, then is sent to the Cincinnati plant for final processing,” Sargent said. “We will break the glass and screen it before sending it to our Dayton glass plant.”

After the glass is processed in Dayton, 60 percent of the final product made there is returned to Indiana, he said.

“Two key components to a successful recycling program are accessibility and education,” Sargent said. “You can’t have one without the other.”

Peggy Dorsey, assistant commissioner for IDEM, also spoke during the event.

“IDEM provided a grant of a little over $87,000 to make the Medora Recycling Center a reality,” she said. “We support business redevelopment and inner-state commerce, and this Medora facility will touch the tristate region and will play an important part in inner-state commerce.”

Jonathan Kissell, corporate communications manager of Rumpke Waste & Recycling, said it is anticipated that 300 to 350 tons of recyclables per month to come through the new Medora facility.

“We’re hoping to exceed that initial projection,” Kissell said. “This includes both single stream recyclables and cardboard.”

Ralph Collins, manager of both the Medora Landfill and Medora Recycling Center, said the hiring process for two to three employees for the center has begun.

“The recycling center will be operated by three people, but in the future, that number might change as we expand,” he said.

The center opened Wednesday for cardboard recycling.

The grant received from IDEM for the Medora Recycling Center required a 50 percent match, and Rumpke provided the baler with an in-feed conveyor and a compactor unit with a receiver box, Collins said.

“Rumpke provided the building and all the concrete around it, so we have a substantial investment over the $87,000 the state gave us in a grant to purchase the baler,” he said. “We are excited to be a part of a public-private partnership with IDEM.”