Illegal dumping is becoming an expensive problem

Local government is calling out some illegal dumpers ruining Tippecanoe County's recycling efforts.

Posted: Aug. 21, 2018 6:33 PM
Updated: Aug. 23, 2018 3:38 PM

TIPPECANOE COUNTY, Ind. (WLFI) — Local government is calling out some illegal dumpers ruining Tippecanoe County's recycling efforts. It's been a problem that comes and goes in this community but over the weekend, it got worse.

It's not their job, but thanks to some illegal dumpers, the Tippecanoe County Highway Department is asked to clean up illegally dumped items anyway.

"This is probably the third or fourth time that I've personally been out here picking up trash," said Tippecanoe County Highway Department Operator Bill Brunson. "Usually mattresses. Anything that's not really recyclable they throw it beside and we have to come out and pick it up."

This is the second year News 18 has reported the issue. However, this time, we have the illegal dumpers' vehicles on camera.

"Certainly we want to hold those accountable if we can," said Southwestern Middle School Principal Kyle Spray. 

Southwestern Middle School volunteered its parking lot for recycling but it didn't sign up to be a landfill.

"It's an eyesore for our school, it's an eyesore for our community to drive by and see it," said Spray. "And it really creates a problem because it has to be disposed of by somebody else."

"That was very heavy," said Brunson after loading an illegally dumped TV. "And now the county will get charged for that. I forget what Winski's charges but it's not cheap."

Improper recycling is happening at designated sites all over Greater Lafayette. County and city leaders are fed up.

"If they put a pizza box in there that's filled with nasty pizza, then it taints that entire load," said West Lafayette Mayor John Dennis. "And it makes that particular basket or whatever no longer of use and it goes into the general trash."

"I'm looking for people to use the system the way that it's intended to be used," said Tippecanoe County Commissioner Tracy Brown. "We're going to do some signage to make sure that it's very clear what can be dropped off and what can't be dropped off."

If cameras, signage and media attention aren't enough, Brown hopes community policing will work.

"If someone sees something inappropriate being dropped off, I want them to make a phone call to county government either the commissioners office or the county sheriff's department and give us a license plate number so we know who is doing this," said Brown.

There are more reasons illegal dumping and improper recycling are such a problem for local government. The whole business of recycling is losing money. China and Thailand banned the importation of all recycled materials.

Wednesday night on News 18 at five and six, we'll tell you how that's impacting Tippecanoe County.

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