You can’t recycle your couch

March 12, 2019

MICHIGAN CITY — County recycling officials don’t want your couch. And that’s why a longtime recycling site in Michigan City may be shut down, not because people aren’t using it, but because some are using it for the wrong things.

The recycling dumpster behind Marquette Mall has been a spot for residents to drop off their recyclables for at least 20 years, even before curbside recycling was instituted in the county, according to the La Porte County Solid Waste District.

It’s a well-used site for dropping off recyclables, but unfortunately, many people are dropping off a lot of other things, costing the Solid Waste District time and money to clean up the mess, according to Sacha Gee Burns, who does community outreach for the District.

“We have a recycling dumpster in Michigan City behind Marquette Mall,” Burns said in a Facebook post. “We had one in La Porte years ago, but had to remove it due to random couches and garbage constantly being left there.”

And now the same fate may befall the MC location. Recently a couch, television and other debris were left at the site, not even in the dumpster, just dumped on the ground.

“It is common for us to find household items such as couches, chairs, lumber and electronics,” Burns said. “The oddest thing we have ever found were the parts to a snowmobile.

“But let us be clear that these containers are for recycling only,” she said.

“Do not drop off your couch – there is no way we can recycle that. If you have electronics take them to the proper location for electronic recycling.”

That would be one of the district’s two electronics drop-off sites – at 1027 Hitchcock Road in Michigan CIty, and 2857 W. Ind. 2 in La Porte.

“There is quite a bit of discussion from our board regarding whether or not to keep the recycling dumpster in Michigan City open, due to all of the non-recyclables that are left there,” Burns said.

She tells people “stop leaving trash” at the recycling dumpster.

“First off, we have to clean that up – we have to pay to get rid of your couch. And typically, the same folks who are leaving trash at our recycling sites are the same ones that call and are upset about the annual user fee.

“As much as we try to keep that fee down and not raise it, while providing residents with all of our recycling programs, it is becoming impossible when we are constantly paying to remove these items.”

So Burns says use the recycling dumpster, but follow the signage for allowed items and don’t leave anything else.

“We are hoping that we can encourage residents to correctly use the recycling dumpster. We would really hate to remove the dumpster since so many residents do use it correctly,” she said.

“But if we do not remedy this situation, we will have no other choice.”

For a complete listing of what is acceptable for recycling and what is not, and a list of special collection events for household hazardous waste and other items, visit solidwastedistrict.com.

—From staff reports