Recycling in Jefferson County will take a significant step forward on Oct. 19, when the first county-operated, staffed recycling center is set to open.
The new center is on the site of a former fleet services building at 355 Elm St. in Hillsboro, one block north of the Fletcher House historic site.
An employee will be at the recycling center to help visitors drop off their paper, cardboard, plastic, glass and metal recyclables. Hours of operation will be 8 a.m. to noon Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday and 1-5 p.m. Wednesday.
“They’ll be able to drive right in (and) we’re going to have a guy there to help them take stuff out of their car, and then drive on out,” said Robert Bradshaw, the county’s recycling coordinator. “We’re looking to see when people come in; we’re going to keep track of how many people come in and what times and keep track of where those people are from. “Anybody from the county can come, but we want to see who we’re servicing and eventually if we need to put a (facility) somewhere else in the county, to help more people.”
The facility and the employee are funded through a pair of grants totaling $250,000 from the St. Louis-Jefferson Solid Waste Management District, which receives its funding through the Missouri Department of Natural Resources.
The grants also covered the cost of a truck and trailer for the county’s recycling efforts, County Services Director Eric Larson said.
“People probably need to know that these grants are paid for not with tax money, but with tipping fees that waste haulers pay landfills,” he said.
The new recycling center features five steel bins, each capable of containing eight cubic yards of material, and a building that provides office space and storage space for equipment, Bradshaw said.
The recycling center also has a fence around it.
“This will be a fence with green mesh around it,” Larson said. “We’ve heard some concerns this facility will be unsightly, but that’s far from the case. The mesh on the fence should help alleviate those concerns.
“For those who are envisioning a couple of large-scale recycling centers in St. Louis County, this will not be anything like that,” Larson said. “You’ll have to pull up inside the site to see what’s going on inside.”
Larson said recyclables will go in closed bins.
“This will not be a situation where paper and other items will be blowing around,” he said.
Larson said he expects only a couple of visitors will be at the site at any given time.
He said the center also will serve as a headquarters for the county’s recycling efforts.
“What this facility also will do is allow us a place to park our recycling truck and trailer that are taken to different events around the county,” he said.
Larson said the trailer can be kept safely inside the fence until the county’s recycling provider, Republic Services, can pick up its contents.
“There were not a lot of other suitable uses for that old fleet services building, so repurposing it as a recycling center will be very much in the spirit of recycling and repurposing that we’re trying to promote in Jefferson County,” he said. “The takeaway should be that this will not be an unsightly recycling site.”
As with the county’s three 24/7 drop-off recycling sites, the Hillsboro center will take unsorted items.
“(It’s) single-stream, we take it all: plastic, paper, cardboard, glass bottles, aluminum cans, steel cans,” Bradshaw said.
The new center effectively will replace the current drop-off site just a few blocks away at the Jefferson County Administration Building, although Bradshaw said the bins there will still be available to county employees and signs will be posted directing the general public to the new facility.
People will be asked not to leave items at the new recycling center outside of the normal operating hours.
The county’s other 24/7 recycling sites are at the High Ridge Civic Center, 2700 Community Lane, and the Windsor Branch of the Jefferson County Library, 7479 Metropolitan Blvd., in Barnhart.
The county also has two bins at
Byrnes Mill’s city recycling center.
Bradshaw said at some point in the future, the new facility could take on scrap metal and even heavier items like appliances.
“We’re working with a company (the Midwest Recycling Center in Imperial) and hopefully we’ll be able to take some more, bigger scrap materials,” he said. “Not like a scrap yard, but if somebody brings in the slats of a bed that are made out of metal, we’ll be able to take those, free of charge; it costs the county nothing.”
Expanding into the heavier items will require some development, such as electric power to the site, but that added service is on Bradshaw’s radar.
“I drive around a lot of county roads and I see dishwashers and washing machines and things thrown off the side of the road and we’re trying to stop that,” he said.
Bradshaw said the volume of recycl-ables in the county greatly increased during the coronavirus pandemic spring shutdown but has returned to more normal levels since then.
“(In) March, April and May, it was just outrageous the amount of stuff put in (the bins). People, when everything was shut down, were doing all their projects and work (at home) – tearing stuff up and cleaning out their basements. Some of it was recyclable material, and other stuff not so good. It’s slowed down a little bit now.”
The county will hold a recycling drop-off event from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 22, at Jefferson College in Hillsboro, on the Yellow parking lot near the Veterans’ Memorial. All regular recyclables will be accepted, along with electronics and appliances.
A fee will be charged to recycle electronic items, ranging from $5 for computer monitors to $50 for larger TV sets, and it will cost $10 to recycle items containing Freon. For more information, call Bradshaw at 636-797-5043 or 314-691-3469. You also may email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.