Chad Roeder, manager of the Downtown Bloomington Recycling Center, discussed future changes to the Center, which will be renamed the Bloomington Community Recycling Center.
Roeder said the recycling center was closed temporarily because of issues with sustainability, economics and labor.
“From a labor perspective, we were open way too many hours,” Roeder said. “We were taking in way too much stuff, and so we had to put the breaks on, re-tool the project, find some new buyers, find some new ways to ship the materials and find ways to lower our labor costs.”
Roeder said they have established those changes and are working on some infrastructure improvements.
“We were dealing with just a couple of buyers before. Now we’ve diversified that into five different buyers and five different ways of shipping the materials,” Roeder said. “We are not beholden to one monolithic system anymore. We’ve hedged our bets essentially. We’re working with a lot of different people so we have the ability to negotiate with five different groups instead of one.”
The recycling center will hopefully open within a week or two at most, Roeder said.
Marcia Veldman, an organizer for Green Drinks Bloomington, said Roeder was invited to speak because of his broad knowledge of recycling in Bloomington.
“Considering how much new downtown housing there is, most of it apartments that don’t have any infrastructure for recycling, we feel that it’s really important for people to get familiar with what needs to happen to make recycling downtown accessible,” Veldman said.
David Gulyas, a former instructor at the School of Public and Environmental Affairs, said Bloomington is really behind on the strategies and technologies for handling waste and recycling.
“It gives people an opportunity to begin to participate in that whole process of beginning to close the loop on material waste management,” Gulyas said in reference to the recycling center re-opening.
Roeder said he sees potential for change in the efforts of waste management.
“You see a lot of communities around the country, certainly around the world, and there have been progressive efforts that have worked,” he said. “I think we can do that here locally.”
Follow reporter Alli Friedman on Twitter @afreedz.
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