A few careless people could ruin things for everyone, as the recycling drop-off at Fresh Pond could close entirely if people continue dumping garbage there.
The Delaware Solid Waste Authority (DSWA) maintains 61 recycling drop-off centers in Delaware, but staff have had their fill of picking up mattresses, bicycles, patio furniture and other junk from the Bethany Beach site.
Located on Route 1, the free recycling center has a new sign overhead: “Recycle Center Will Be Removed for Continued Illegal Dumping. To Report Violators Call 1-800-404-7080.”
“That site is not scheduled to close. That sign is [implying] that we might have to close the facility if we cannot curtail the illegal dumping that has been going on there,” said Mike Parkowski, DSWA chief of business and governmental services, who acknowledged that the sign could use more accurate language.
“What we’re trying to do with the sign is to get people to help us by reporting — get the license plate of people who are dumping … on a daily basis,” Parkowski said.
Bethany’s seven large recycling containers hold paper, cardboard, glass, metal cans and plastics. Oil filters, used oil and household batteries have drop boxes, too. Contractors haul the recycling away almost daily.
DSWA’s recycling technicians clean the recycling sites daily, too, removing any broken glass or loose paper. That’s usually a 30-minute job, unless illegally dumped items are present, too.
“These guys have to spend four, five, six hours cleaning up that site,” Parkowski said of the Bethany location. “They can be hurt doing that. They’re there to be picking up paper and little things,” but they’ve been injured lifting heavy items.
Recycling containers sometimes overflow on a busy weekend, but that’s different from dumping. Illegal dumping is the bookshelves and yard waste that people discard right under the list of approved recyclables — which notably does not include either of those things, or the other items people illegally dump there.
These are “conscientious dumpers — people who dump it there because they know someone takes it,” Parkowski said. “These are people that are doing it on purpose, which is why we want to try and catch them.
“We’re not asking for anyone to confront anybody, but if they can call us and say, ‘I saw someone drop off this … household trash,’” then DSWA can take action, Parkowski said.
DSWA has caught violators across the state, even by finding a mailing address inside the trash bag. They turn that information over to the legal system.
Parkowski said large items, such as a couch or refrigerator, should be delivered to the landfill, which will charge a minimum of $7.50. Collection stations outside of Frankford and Long Neck will accept bags of trash for $1 apiece.
While Fresh Pond is not the only site with issues, it’s gotten very bad in the last six to eight months, as regular users and residential neighbors have noticed.
Although the DSWA doesn’t want to remove the site, it would be compelled to if dumping continues.
“We’re going to take a look at the center, and we really would be disappointed if we would have to remove it,” Parkowski said. “We hope the people that are using it the right way would help us police it.”
For more information, call the DSWA Citizens’ Response Line at 1-800-404-7080 or visit www.dswa.com.