Tammy Saldivar, the Solid Waste Operation Manager of the Leavenworth County Solid Waste Transfer Station, really just wants you to know that they're there.
"There are so many people that don't know we're here," she says. "I just want people to know we're here. Recycling is here if they want to use it."
Increasing public awareness of the Transfer Station, and the recycling services it offers in particular, matters to Saldivar personally because she sees the truckloads of castoffs sent to the landfill every day.
And she would so much rather fill her recycling containers than her "tipping floor"— the dump location for all the materials bound, via seven semi-truck trailers per day, for the Deffenbaugh landfill off I-435.
The County Transfer Station sits in a pastoral setting off 136th Street in Lansing. On any given day, six people are working to sort, measure and properly dispose of the wide range of solid waste that people bring.
And — except for oils, explosives (including fireworks) and asbestos — if you want to get rid of it, the Transfer Station will probably take it.
In just the last year, they've collected 1810 lbs. of aluminum cans, and sent them to Wabash Iron & Metal Company, Inc. – a Kansas City, Missouri company that repackages the material and sells it to various other handlers.
About 6220 lbs. of car batteries have been collected and sent to Shostak Iron & Metal Co., where they collect the lead acid batteries, amalgamate them, load them on to pellets and ship them to EPA licensed disposal facilities.
In May they started taking alkaline and nickel batteries, as well as light bulbs – and have already collected 100 lbs. of light bulbs, which are mailed to LampTracker to be recycled.
Electronic waste is sent to UNICOR at the federal prison. They broke 20,286 lbs. of "e-waste" down, dissembling the metal, plastic, and electronics into their commodity-based materials.
River's Edge Scrap Management in Kansas City, Kansas took 150,000 lbs. of metal last year, which they cut to standard size and ship to a steel mill to recycle.
Ripple Glass, another Kansas City company, takes all the recyclable glass the Transfer Station collects – 22 tons last year. Corning Ware then reuses some of that glass for producing household goods and fiberglass insulation. Much of the rest goes to a bottle manufacturer who produces, amongst other things, the amber-colored bottles used by the Boulevard Brewing Company.
About 17 tons of paper, plastic, and tin cans was sent to Midwest Shredding in Kansas City Missouri to be repackaged and sent to reprocessors.
And 18 tons of cardboard was collected last year and sent to Lynn Paper, where it is baled and sent to the NGC mill, who turns Leavenworth County cardboard into the lining in gypsum drywall boards.
Page 2 of 3 - Last year the Transfer Station also collected seven tons of latex paint – which is sent to Rolling Meadows landfill, where it is turned into a solid before disposal.
Unlike the other items on this list, Saldivar is giving latex paint away in an effort to reduce the amount that must be sent to the landfill. Cans of paint in a variety of colors are piled up on the tipping floor, waiting for the public to come and take what they want.
"Latex goes in the landfill," says Saldivar. "So it will be so much better if somebody wants it."
In addition the facility handles brush disposal (and mulch-making), composting grass and leaves, and tire disposal.
The one thing Saldivar can't find a taker for is Styrofoam, but she is on an almost Quixotic quest to find a recycler for it.
"We have die-hard recyclers," says Saldivar, "Who come here and they continue to put [Styrofoam] in their plastic because they just cannot throw it away."
"If you can't recycle it, I don't know why they continue making it."
She's also hoping to get carpet and pad recycling set up soon.
But, with all that recycling, Saldivar still laments the approximately seven semi-truck loads of waste a day that end up at the Deffenbaugh landfill.
The hardest part of the job, she says, is "seeing stuff that can be reused that [now] has to be thrown away."
For the most part, sales from the recycled materials go back into the Transfer Station budget and help pay the fees for solid waste that can't be recycled.
Dropping off recyclable materials, household hazardous waste, and grass and leaves is free for county residents; and tires (without rims, up to 10) are free to drop off on the second Monday of every month. Brush is free on the first Monday of every month.
And the drop-off hours are the same for all materials, including hazardous waste: Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.; and Saturday, 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Remember that loads must be tied down and covered with a tarp, to avoid leaving trash around the facility.
You can also get mulch (chipped brush waste) and compost (grass and leaves, mixed in a specific ratio, watered and turned for at least six weeks) for free if you load it, and for $10.00 if the Transfer Station staff load it.
Saldivar has only been in her current position for about a year – before she came to the Transfer Station she worked in the County legal department – she says she went from "legal secretary to Queen of Trash."
But in that time she has seen some strange things come through. The most comical are snatched up by the tipping floor staff and added to their "Wall of Shame" – including a vintage Star Wars poster, and a little red wagon.
Page 3 of 3 - Other things that show up too often are unexploded fireworks and unused ammunition. And regularly someone leaves a wallet, a cell phone, a spare tire, or even a tailgate.
In just the last week, the Station found and returned almost $300.00 in a jar of loose change.
Staff carefully put things aside for the forgetful to reclaim, and will even sort through debris left on the tipping floor for a missing item. They, won't, however, go through the full trailer.
"One guy accidentally dumped his bucket of copper," recalls Saldivar. "'I need to go through that trailer,' 'No, you're not getting in that trailer.'"
"Especially if the prison has dumped their prison slop -- you don't want to be mucking through that."
More information about prices and what is accepted can be found at http://www.leavenworthcounty.org/sw/sw.asp.