Clinton County is about to clean up

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By Liam Tiernan
Clinton County Chatter Staff Reporter

In most communities, garbage is largely ignored as an inconvenience or an unwelcome necessity. As long as it can be taken to the curb and gotten rid of, few care what’s in it or where it’s going.

A scrapmetal pile in DeWitt awaiting April 30th

A scrap metal pile in DeWitt awaiting April 30

Clinton County refuses to be one of those communities.

The Clinton County Clean Community event is on April 30, and event organizers believe that this year’s event could be the largest so far.

Since 2005, Clinton County’s Clean Community events have been some of the largest government-organized community events on Clinton County every year, with one event every spring and two in the fall.

In these volunteer-run events, residents are encouraged to bring waste that should not be disposed of in normal ways to various drop points, including but not limited to batteries, used needles, inhalers, fertilizer bags, and other hazardous or electronic waste.

“It’s an event that attempts to improve the quality of life in Clinton County,” said Michael Preuss, organizer of the first of this year’s events. “The collection itself isn’t even really the important part.

“Most of these facilities have collection points for hazardous waste all year round. People just need to be made aware of what they should throw away where. That’s where this event and our literature helps.”

Even just properly disposing of the waste hasn’t been enough for event organizers in recent years. The event now recycles over half of what’s brought in for disposal, including tires, motor oil, and scrap metal.

“We see the clean community event every year, people lined up at the drop sites while we’re on our way to work and stuff,” said Alex Flees, a DeWitt resident who works as a mechanic at PJ’s automotive shop. “This year the shop is sending all our used oil and scrap over.”

“A surprising amount of residential waste can actually be recycled,” said Phil Burgert, writer and assistant director of Waste360, an organization devoted to collection and distribution of waste management statistics to help notice trends and improve nationwide waste management policies. “Upwards of 60 percent of waste generated in a typical household can actually be reused in some way with the right facilities.”

According to Waste360, rural areas have a 60 percent lower recycling rate than urban areas as well as 75 percent of hazardous waste that is not disposed of properly. In fact, as much as 75 percent of rural residential waste is burned. Clinton County, thanks to the Clean Community Events and other programs, escapes these statistics.

“We’ve seen hundreds of new recycling clients in the last decade,” said George Clark,
waste management engineer at the Clinton County Department of Waste Management. “I seriously doubt the Clean Community events have nothing to do with it.”

Registry for the April 30 event is available on Clinton County’s website.

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