Harvey County residents likely won't notice much of a change — if any — in the way they go about recycling materials like paper, plastics and aluminum.
But at the county's end, there will be a change in how those recyclables are processed — part of an effort to further streamline the county's single-stream recycling.
Currently, recyclables from the Harvey County area are taken to Waste Connections' recycling facility in South Hutchinson after collection. Since the different types of recyclables are mixed together in a single stream, they have to be separated out, with some materials coming back to Harvey County to finish processing. Now, however, all those materials will be processed in South Hutchinson, and will eliminate an extra trip.
Jim Spencer, Waste Connections' division vice president for Kansas and Oklahoma, said the current process — with recyclables going to South Hutchinson and then some coming back to Harvey County — is not very efficient and drives up fuel costs.
"It became very apparent that we needed to have all of the single-stream processing in one place," Spencer said. "... It accomplished a lot of things, being greener and more efficient."
The Harvey County recycling center will continue to serve as a collection point for residential recyclables, and members of the public still will be able to drop off recycling there.
"It doesn't mean recycling is going away," John Waltner, county administrator, said of the change.
Waste Connections has expanded the South Hutchinson processing facility and made a multi-million dollar investment in the plant. The facility has seen volumes increase from 500 tons a month to 2,000 tons.
Spencer said much of the South Hutchinson recycling facility's output is able to stay local. A large amount of the recycled paper stays in south-central Kansas, and finely-ground glass is used to make insulation.
"We feel very proud that a lot of this is taking place and building revenue and supporting jobs right here in south-central Kansas," Spencer said. "... It's being recycled, there are markets available for this product."
Spencer said single-stream recycling is being offered in a commercial setting now, as well as residential, and the company's goal is to reduce the amount of trash and to recycle as much as possible.
Roy Patton, Harvey County solid waste superintendent, does believe the county's single-stream recycling process has made it easier for people to recycle and has encouraged them to not just throw paper, plastics and other materials in the trash.
"It absolutely has helped," he said.