By Jessica Mathews /

The prospect of moving to every week curbside recycling is still being debated in Genoa Township.

The amount of cardboard and other materials generated by residents is said to be dramatically different than when the latest refuse and recycling contract was approved three years ago, in part due to COVID and increased use of delivery services like Amazon. Last May, the township started putting in recycling dumpsters for cardboard-only at the township hall but officials say the service was abused extensively, with people from outside of the township dropping off contaminated items. The township stopped accepting materials after holidays, which caused some community backlash from recycling proponents. It was stated that what happened with the dumpsters was embarrassing in that people abused that service to that degree (pictured).

It’s been a controversial issue for the township, which has been forced to change refuse and recycling haulers multiple times due to company acquisitions. The most recent contract was with Advanced Disposal but they were acquired by Waste Management.

At Monday’s meeting, the board again discussed moving to every week recycling to help keep residents happy. Some of the stated benefits were that people won’t have to remember their recycling week, hardcore recyclers will be happy because they don’t have to store cardboard and generally people will take into account the environmental stewardship aspect on the part of the township.

A memo from Manager Mike Archinal states that managing a township-wide refuse and recycling program is a "miserable experience" and he highlighted various examples during the meeting. Archinal commented he thinks only one other municipality in the county does township wide recycling and refuse collection – comparing everyone else to the "Wild West" with multiple haulers and trucks coming down streets on different days. He noted various public benefits in keeping overloaded trucks off subdivision roads, saying the service is tidy and one day a week, and dramatically cheaper because it is bid as a unified contract but stressed that a significant amount of staff time goes into it. Archinal noted that out of all township services, garbage is something that touches everyone. Every time it snows and a truck can’t get down a hill or it’s a holiday and someone gets missed or there’s a new driver unfamiliar with addresses – it was said to be a big deal and a lot of staff time is spent fielding calls and complaints.

Officials say the township wide service is a bargain versus having residents contract on their own. Residents currently pay $145 per year for refuse and recycling. In order to switch to every week recycling, an increase of $12 annually or $1 per month is proposed, with the township subsidizing around $170,000 in the upcoming budget. The general fund has long subsidized the cost of refuse service to keep the cost of service affordable. Residents cannot opt-out of recycling. Archinal told the board it is a policy decision to increase what everyone is paying for, but may not be universally used.

Some members commented they didn’t want to delay things too much and it’s time to move ahead as it has been controversial and they continue to hear from residents who want it. Clerk Polly Skolarus voiced budget concerns and opposition to having all residents pay for every week recycling when the majority likely don’t need or want it. She felt conducting a resident survey would be worthwhile, as the majority might not even use the service. Skolarus favored conducting a survey to gauge resident interest – likening it to taxation without representation as they’re only hearing from people who want extra recycling. Other board members disagreed and spoke up to say that the board is elected to make these decisions and go through the budget process. It was stated that results from any survey conducted would likely be skewed anyway and not be accurate representation of overall constituency as those responding would likely be a majority for pro-weekly recycling.

The consensus was to put the potential increase with moving to every week recycling on the next meeting agenda. Archinal is also expected to try and gather some statistics from Waste Management about what kind of recycling is generated based on the number people in a home and bring that information forward.