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Oxford announces 'green' initiatives

Rebecca Kelley

Oxford is taking steps to go green with new efforts in recycling.

After a forum hosted Feb. 26 by Oxford and Butler County, community members are taking action to boost recycling among citizens and students.

Representatives from Miami University's recycling program, the city of Oxford and the Butler County Solid Waste Management district formed a panel for the forum. Each gave a short presentation regarding current recycling efforts. The community then had the opportunity to question the panel.

According to David Treleaven, environmental specialist for the city of Oxford, while all houses in Oxford have curbside recycling provided by Rumpke, residents only recycle 15-15.5 percent of the total waste that they produce.

"We certainly can improve on that," Treleaven said. "But at the same time, it's better than nothing."

Treleaven said the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) wants communities recycling around 25 percent of their total waste. However, he was optimistic and suggested that Oxford is on its way to meeting this goal.

According to Anne Fiehrer-Flaig, solid waste district coordinator for Butler County, one of the reasons the recycling rates in Oxford, and Ohio in general, are so low is the costly nature of recycling.

"I think that part of the challenge we have in our state is that it's cheap to throw things away in the garbage," Fiehrer-Flaig said.

Fiehrer-Flaig explained that the Butler County Solid Waste Management district is currently trying to provide financial incentives to cities in Butler County in exchange for improved recycling. According to Fiehrer-Flaig, the funds provided to these communities can be used at the discretion of each specific city.

Treleaven said that one of the main issues Oxford citizens face is the inability of Rumpke, the current recycling provider, to recycle a wide variety of common items such as certain number-two plastics that make up microwave dinner containers and yogurt cups. According to Treleaven, the reason for this is the make up of the plastic.

"They melt at a different temperature and are a contaminant," Treleaven said.

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According to Fiehrer-Flaig, many other states such as those along the West coast have found profitable methods to recycle these other types of plastics.

"It is odd to me that Rumpke has not found a market for these items, because clearly the market exists in other parts of the United States," Fiehrer-Flaig said.

Fiehrer-Flaig hopes to see Rumpke look into different options for widening the scope of its recycling facility to include these other recyclables.

"I feel optimistic that someday, we will recycle all of these items," Fiehrer-Flaig said.

The lack of mandatory recycling facilities in many of the Oxford apartment complexes was the other main issue discussed at the forum. According to Treleaven, there are no rules that insist that apartment complexes offer recycling boxes.

"It's up to them," Treleaven said.

Treleaven explained that offering recycling often proves to be very costly for the apartments, and owners are discouraged from providing the proper facilities.

The Candlewood Terrace apartments of Oxford are currently going green, having recently received a grant to provide recycling facilities to residents. The kick-off to the building's new program is 3 p.m. Feb. 29.