PARKERSBURG - A model Zero Waste Challenge project to reuse or recycle all the trash from three Wood County offices is under way.
If successful, plans are to implement the program in all Wood County government offices.
"We are challenging the employees at the Judge Black Courthouse Annex to go to zero waste by either reusing or recycling everything that comes from the building that would have gone into the landfill," said Wood County Solid Waste Authority Director John Reed. "The prosecutor, assessor and sheriff who have offices in that building agreed to participate in the project."
Reed said they purchased new recycling containers that separate the items and they have been placed in the employee break rooms of the three offices, and in the vestibule front entrance at the annex. There is another one located in the Fort Boreman public meeting room at the annex.
The project, which is being sponsored by the SWA, kicked off last week. An employee was appointed to oversee the project in each department.
"The composter uses heat, air and organic materials to compost the food, coffee grounds, that type of material, and once it's processed it can be used in gardens. The food, coffee grinds, and similar food waste would be put into the composter. The employees will put in the wood pellets used in the machines," Reed said.
The recycling centers have containers for plastic, paper, glass, cans and office trash.
Debbie Ryder, legal assistant in the prosecutor's office is in charge of her office's challenge project.
"As individuals I think we need to reduce our carbon footprint as much as possible," she said.
Nationally, cities and counties are trying to go to zero waste, Reed said.
"We wanted to challenge the public to show it can be done. If we can go to zero waste we would eliminate our trash bill altogether for the county government buildings," Reed said.
The county pays $336 monthly for trash from the downtown county buildings including the Black Annex, Shaver Judicial Annex, Wood County Courthouse, Wood County Justice Center and former law enforcement building.
"Part of it will be reusing, things like Styrofoam that can't be recycled but is often used in shipping. We will have them collect that and I'll pick it up and donate it to area businesses that do a lot of shipping. There is also a recycling container for batteries and old ink cartridges in the vestibule of the annex and the public meeting room, and that is available to the public to use as well," Reed said.
The county has been recycling paper.
"About 85 percent of the product has been paper. Now we can even recycle shredded paper," Reed said.
If it's successful, Reed said it is hoped the project can be expanded to all the county offices.
"We're hoping to set an example for the community, maybe other groups or businesses will see what we're doing and give it a try," Reed said. "The idea is to, as completely as possible, eliminate the waste which ends up in the landfill. By reducing the wastestream, it prolongs the life of Wood County's landfill. And the best way to reduce the wastestream is to recycle and reuse. This has been one of the primary goals of this SWA board, to increase the amount of recycling including education about recycling."
The cost of the composters is about $300 each and the cost of the recycling containers was about $1,500. The equipment was paid for by the SWA through per tonnage tipping fees paid by the haulers to the landfill.
"We have regulatory authority over certain aspects of the landfill. Right now, the landfill is limited to 30,000 tons of waste per month. We are also responsible for the landfill siting plan which we are working on now. It has to be done every five years," Reed said.
While finding a future landfill site is not a big concern right now, it will be eventually.
"It's a benefit to everybody if we start recycling right now to reduce the amount dumped in the landfill. Right now it's projected our landfill will reach it's capacity by 2070," Reed said. "Right now we are recycling only about 23 percent of the wastestream."