June 2005

City of Oberlin creates plastic benches from cardboard

It’s not exactly the medieval alchemist’s goal of turning led into gold, but the city of Oberlin and the Lorain County Solid Waste Management District have helped Oberlin downtown building owner Mike Bush turn corrugated cardboard into recycled plastic benches.

Public works director Jeff Baumann, who coordinates the city’s recycling program, said the Solid Waste Management District began last year requiring cities to develop an incentive program to encourage recycling.

The Oberlin incentive program for 2004 encouraged commercial entities to recycle more corrugated cardboard.

“We essentially set up a tracking system,” Baumann said.

“Every time our guys emptied the dumpsters they would estimate how full it was, 10 percent, 40 percent, whatever. Then I set up a spread-sheet to multiply that by the size of the dumpster on a weekly basis to estimate how much cardboard was being recycled from each business.”

The incentive program was set up to determine which business showed the most improvement.

Cardboard recycling was calculated each quarter for 2004, and the first quarter figures were compared with the fourth-quarter figures for each business.

“Mike Bush’s building with Quizno’s, the UPS Store, Curves, Yesterday’s Ice Cream, and Nail’s to Perfection, actually acheived a 200 percent increase in their cardboard recycling.”

Baumann said. “As a result they’ve been awarded a $500 prize, which has to be used to buy a recycled content product. And they’re going to use it to buy two recycled plastic benches that will go out in front.”

Baumann said the recycling incentive program for this year focuses on neighborhood recycling.

He said residential recycling will be monitored on a neighborhood basis.

“Once again, we’ll be looking for improvements in neighborhoods,” he said. “And the neighborhood that achieves the most increase in recycling on a percentage basis we’ll use funds from the Solid Waste Management District to buy some kind of recycled content amenity for a park in that neighborhood.”


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