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'We will always be getting the word out'

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PILED HIGH:Laptop computers are just one of the many items collected by the Miami County Recycling District.
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Miscellanea:Various items awaiting sorting at the Miami County Recycling District Office on Tuesday.
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FILLING UP:Samantha St. John, director at the Miami County Recycling District, looks over a box of televisions, collected at the Logansport Road collection facility on Tuesday.
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NO CHARGE:Batteries and other items sit, awaiting sorting, at the Miami County Recycling District Office on Tuesday.
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PLENTY TO DO: SamanthaSt. John inspects cardboard bins filled with various electronics at the Miami County Recycling District Office on Tuesday.

BY JARED KEEVER - jkeever@perutribune.com

Her office had only been open for a couple of hours on Tuesday morning, but Samantha St. John was already having a busy day.

“This is our warehouse,” the director of the Miami County Recycling District said as she made her way through carts stacked individually with household chemicals, or latex paint, or rechargeable batteries.

Most of the items, she said, had come in in the two and a half hours that she’d been open since 8 a.m. It had already created plenty of work for herself and the helper who was sorting and preparing the items for them to be picked up by various organizations that reuse or recycle them.

Along one wall, there was a line of large cardboard bins filled with old flat screen televisions, computer monitors, printers and other types of electronics. Those, she explained, will get picked up by an electronics recycler in Indianapolis.

And as busy as it was, St. John said she’d like to see it busier.

After all, what she collects at the location at 2651 West Logansport Road are items that are either banned from landfills or would be “very bad for the landfill.”

The district, which is paid for with a $30 annual assessment to each property owner in the county, has been in the location since 2016 and is open these days from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday and the first Saturday of every month from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

“We are getting the word out and we will always be getting the word out,” St. John said.

Which isn’t to say that she hasn’t seen success. With the District since 2003, she said she could remember a time that hours were far more limited.

“Like our e-waste we only took one day a week,” she said. “Chemicals once a month, April through October.”

Those were frustrating times, she said, because she knew people wanted to get rid of the items safely and not be constrained by her timelines.

“I just didn’t have a way to help,” she said.

Now that things are different, she has a little bit more flexibility and has found more organizations to either recycle or reuse the items that come in.

The latter is the case with latex paint, something she said she just recently started collecting again. Now she has someone who collects what she has and mixes like colors together so it can be reused.

“It’s the best thing you can do for the environment because it’s reusing something that somebody doesn’t need,” St. John said. “I like being able to help people find a way to reuse things.”

Which is probably the motivating factor behind the shelves near the front door of the center that holds various lightly used containers of chemicals and a few assorted electronics.

There was old, working microwave sitting there on Tuesday and just before St. John slipped out into the warehouse, a man stopped in to take a small television and air conditioner that also worked.

He stopped and thanked her for the services she provides and she thanked him for reusing the items and knowing that they are there to take in the other harmful items as well.

“Oh no, we don’t want them in a ditch, we don’t want them in the sewer,” she said as he left.

The Miami County Recycling District also operates nine “traditional” recycling sites in the county where residents can drop off paper, cardboard, metal, plastic and glass items.

The District Office accepts various appliances, electronics, chemicals, batteries and fluorescent light bulbs.

Some exceptions and limits do apply and some items are not permitted to be dropped off.

For more information, the District website can be found at www.miamicountyin.gov or residents can call (765) 472-7224. The District also maintains a Facebook page at facebook.com/MiamiCountyIndianaRecyclingDistrict, where residents can learn about educational opportunities and special programs offered through the year.