© 2021 St. Louis Public Radio
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations
Government, Politics & Issues

Trash From ‘Inconsiderate People’ Forces Metro East Village To Close Its Recycling Center

Overflowing recycling receptacles in Freeburg. The village shut down it's recycling center after people routinely contaminated the bins with non-recyclable items.
Village of Freeburg
Recycling receptacles overflow in Freeburg. The village shut down its recycling center after people routinely contaminated the bins with non-recyclable items.

Editor’s note: This story was originally published by the Belleville News-Democrat, a news partner of St. Louis Public Radio.

The village of Freeburg was forced to close its recycling center because non-recyclable garbage routinely contaminated collection bins.

And when a nearby municipality discontinued its recycling service, the problem in Freeburg only got worse, said Village Administrator Tony Funderburg.

“The problem with the recycling centers are people have closed them because people are inconsiderate and throw everything in the world in there,” Funderburg said. “They use it for trash, therefore it doesn’t get recycled.

“There is no way to sit there and watch over every person dropping stuff in there, even with the (security) cameras you can’t do much with it.”

The problem has been ongoing, but worsened when Smithton closed its recycling center in April, said Funderburg. That’s when more non-Freeburg residents began using the Freeburg recycling center for their trash, too.

“A lot of the people that are doing the most complaining on this situation do not live in Freeburg and should have never been there recycling in the first place,” Funderburg said.

The recycling center was available to Village of Freeburg residents and Freeburg Township only, as stated on the village’s website.

“Our residents don’t pay taxes to us to worry about people in other cities,” Funderburg said. “The expenses the village had to pay due to people not following the rules doesn’t matter if things can’t be recycled. Once you contaminate the recycling center, they are not recycling it.”

Though the recycling center is closed, the village will continue to host recycling events for its residents throughout the year, including electronics recycling and a community cleanup, Funderburg said.

Freeburg residents also can receive curbside recycling from Waste Management at a cost of of $15 per month in addition to the normal trash pickup fee.

“It’s hard to sit here and try to help every other community around us, maybe they all need to be doing something as well as because they’ve had the same issues that we do,” he said.

Funderburg said he doesn’t have any faith the recycling center will reopen in the future.

“There’s no way we can go back to that concept, but we will do events like a cardboard event or a paper event so we’ll only do certain events and that’s probably it,” he said.

Amoni Lewis is a reporter with the Belleville News-Democrat, a news partner of St. Louis Public Radio.

Send questions and comments about this story to feedback@stlpublicradio.org.