Recycling drop-off location dropped


It’s one of the most popular destinations for “green”-minded residents and visitors to the area, but as of March 2008, the recycling drop-off center in Millville will itself be headed for the recycling bin.

Millville’s Masonic lodge, Doric Lodge No. 30, at 346 Atlantic Avenue (Route 26, across from Millville Town Hall), as of March, will officially and permanently close the drop-off center it has hosted for more than a decade in its parking lot.

A sign to that effect appeared recently at the location, letting all the area’s regular recyclers know that they’ll soon have to find another way to dispose of their recyclables in an environmentally friendly manner.

Rich VonStetten, senior manager of statewide recycling at the Delaware Solid Waste Authority (DSWA), had hinted such a move might be on the horizon while discussing municipal curbside recycling options with Bethany Beach officials in August 2007.

“We will never remove a Recycle Delaware center unless we’re asked to by the sponsor,” VonStetten told the Coastal Point this week, repeating something he’s said many times before.

“They’ve been a great sponsor for us for about the last 16 to 17 years — ever since we started the program,” he said of the Millville lodge. “But they sent us a letter stating the time had come, that they would like the site removed.”

VonStetten said the Masons had cited a variety of reasons for wanting the site closed, ranging from traffic congesting resulting from those coming in and out of the facility to material blown into neighbors’ yards.

“They were a great site sponsor for us,” he reiterated. “I understand their plight. We hate to lose them.”

VonStetten had said in August that there was an increasing trend toward those sponsoring the sites asking DSWA to remove the drop-offs, as has now been the case with the Millville location.

In Fenwick Island, he noted, town officials made it clear that they wanted the drop-off next to town hall to be gone in the near future. There, problems with overflow and noise, as well as broken glass left on the pavement, made the drop-off unwanted by many, and the location was removed by DSWA shortly after the town adopted townwide curbside recycling last year.

In Millville, there had also been complaints about overflow, broken glass and noise. Some members of the lodge, VonStetten said back in August, had made it known they would like to have the drop-off removed, complaining also about how much space the facility had begun to take up in their parking lot.

The Fenwick and Millville locations are not alone in being scrapped. Indeed, local drop-off spots have consistently dwindled in recent years. The drop-off once most frequently used by Bethany Beach residents — off Kent Avenue near Sea Colony’s western residences — was closed several years ago when the property was converted for new homes. Then went Fenwick, and now Millville.

As of March, the closest recycling drop-off locations to Millville will be in the Frankford area, with one at the Omar transfer station on Burton Farm Road and one at Daisey and Carey streets; in Dagsboro at the Dagsboro Masonic Lodge on Main Street; in Selbyville at Railroad Avenue and Church Street; and at Indian River Marina at the Inlet.

Heightening the sponsor crunch, VonStetten said most developers of shopping centers are now refusing to host drop-offs, seeking instead to maximize parking and also to minimize problems with overflow, noise, cleanup and vandalism. That has left DSWA with a dwindling number of locations just as recycling has started to become more common.

Curbside recycling a popular option

The presence of the Millville and Fenwick Island recycling drop-offs was cited by some who opposed, or at least did not support, the move toward municipal curbside recycling in Fenwick, South Bethany and Bethany Beach — all of which have since adopted the program on a voluntary basis.

Some citizens who had been recycling for years said they didn’t feel the need to move to curbside recycling at a cost of $1 per pickup when they could just continue to drop off their recyclables with a quick trip down the road. Others, however, saw the ongoing increase in traffic on Route 26 and Route 1 — particularly in the summer and during congestion-creating road or utility work — as a good reason to go with the curbside option.

DSWA has also encouraged municipalities that haven’t already done so to join in the townwide programs, which cost as little as $32 per year for mixed weekly and bi-weekly pickups.

However, neither Millville nor neighboring Ocean View — both of which bring a large portion of users to the Millville drop-off location — have seriously considered joining their eastern neighbors with a municipal program. VonStetten said he’d met with Ocean View officials around Labor Day of 2007 but had not seen any further interest from them.

DSWA actually now offers curbside recycling to all Delaware residents at that $1 rate, including those living in Ocean View and Millville. They can sign up online at www.dswa.com or by calling (800) 404-7080.

Those residing in unincorporated areas are also frequent users of the Millville location and will have to decide in the coming weeks whether they want to start traveling a little farther afield or whether it’s finally time to start up with curbside recycling.

The timing is good for those starting with the curbside program, since the convenience of curbside pickup is now combined with the new single-stream recycling program at DSWA. All types of recyclable materials accepted by DSWA for curbside pickup now go inside a single container, with no need to sort or keep a stock of DSWA-supplied bags for various kinds of materials.

“They’re all being provided with 65-gallon carts, and they can put it all together,” VonStetten said of all of DSWA’s curbside recycling customers, individual and municipal.

Drop-offs join curbside with single-stream

Just Wednesday, DSWA announced that it was also switching 140 Recycle Delaware drop-off centers across the state to single-stream recycling. That could drop the number of containers present at most locations and perhaps address some of the concerns from some of the locations’ hosts.

Residents will no longer have to sort their regular recyclables prior to coming to the drop-off centers. Drop-off centers also accepting cardboard, household batteries and textiles will continue to collect them in separate containers, however.

The collection of paperboard items, such as cereal and tissue boxes, is also being added to both the curbside recycling program and DSWA drop-off centers in single-stream recycling.

DSWA plans to phase in the conversion of 140 drop-off centers throughout Delaware over the next two weeks. Residents should look for new bright yellow decals on the containers at a center to determine if it has been converted to single-stream.

VonStetten said, “It is our hope that this simplified method of recycling at the drop-off centers will encourage more recycling by Delawareans.”

Clearly, though, demand remains for the drop-off locations for those who simply prefer the old way. And DSWA is now hoping that someone with property in the Millville area will now come forward, willing to host a relocated drop-off center.

VonStetten said one potential sponsor has already come forward.

“I am encouraged that we’re looking at Millville By the Sea,” he said. “I met with the developer on Monday or Tuesday, and they’re looking very seriously at working with us at citing a center not too far way from the existing one on Route 26.”

Whether or not a drop-off center at Millville By the Sea comes to fruition, VonStetten said he would still like to hear from anyone willing to host recycling centers.

“You can never have too many,” he said.

Anyone willing to do so can call DSWA toll-free at (800) 404-7080.