By Patrick Wade
CHAMPAIGN – As a budget savings measure, now that at-home recycling pickup is available to all Champaign residents, the city-operated recycling drop-off center will be shuttered for good by the end of Thursday. Users can still drop off their paper, plastic, glass and other recyclables at the Kenyon Road facility until 2:30 p.m.
The center costs city taxpayers about $75,000 per year to keep open, and the facility was deemed unnecessary since a mandatory fee-supported multifamily recycling program started offering pickup service to condominium and apartment dwellers at the beginning of December. That program made at-home recycling pickup available to all residents by complementing a city ordinance requiring trash haulers to offer the service to single-family homes.
But it also left out-of-towners, like Thomasboro resident Diana Hess Pohlod, without an option. She used the Champaign facility to trash her cans, bottles, newspaper and cardboard once every week or so. “We’re out in Thomasboro, and we don’t have recycling available,” she said.
Enter Green Purpose LLC, a company which hopes to open a privately-funded recycling dropoff center to replace the city-run center that closes today. Steven Rosenberg, the CEO of Green Purpose, said he hopes to have that new facility up and running by February.
Rosenberg has been in discussions with the city’s planning department about using a lot on Kenyon Road just east of Neil Street – essentially down the road from the city dropoff site – for the recycling center. The current zoning does not technically match what Rosenberg wants to do with the lot, but that should not become an insurmountable obstacle, said city zoning administrator Kevin Phillips.
“It seems like a good idea and good place for it,” Phillips said.
Rosenberg may seek a special use permit, which would allow the recycling center to operate on that lot. That permit would require plan commission and city council approval. The opening date also hinges on how quickly the center can accumulate 3,000 registered users. “It’s kind of out of our hands, and it also depends on the people from the community,” Rosenberg said.
Basic memberships will cost customers $5 monthly and premium memberships, which would give those users access to expanded services, will cost $10 per month. The first 3,000 people to register will get the premium membership for the low-tier price, Rosenberg said.
“We’re really now starting to ramp up for people to pre-register and really trying to get some feedback from the community,” Rosenberg said.
Time will tell whether area residents will be willing to pay for a service they have been getting free for years, but Hess Pohlod said she is ready to put up the cash.
“I would rather pay than put it in a landfill,” she said.
Those interested in signing up for the Green Purpose recycling center may contact Rosenberg at 513-289-1004 or [email protected]
By Patrick Wade