Paper products make up biggest portion of trash in Sedgwick County

More than 4 pounds a day — that’s how much trash Sedgwick County residents generated per person last year, a report released Wednesday showed.

Susan Erlenwein, the county’s environmental resources director, said the county produced more than 405,000 tons of trash – or 4.43 pounds per person per day – last year, a 2.2 percent increase from 2011 but a drop from 2008, she said.

“There’s still a lot of material we’re still throwing away that could have something else done with and could be recycled,” Erlenwein said.

Five years ago, the county generated 447,614 tons of trash. Erlenwein said she thinks the economy is a reason for the county generating less trash – people are buying less.

Paper products continue to make up the biggest percentage of items that land in Sedgwick County residents’ trash, making up almost 30 percent, followed by yard waste at 17 percent and plastic materials at 14 percent.

The county’s solid waste committee has recommended that all cities in the county have a solid waste contract or franchise by 2016. It previously had recommended that such be in place by 2011.

Fifteen cities have some form of franchise or contract agreement for trash collection or recycling, Erlenwein said. They are Wichita, Andale, Bel Aire, Bentley, Cheney, Clearwater, Colwich, Derby, Eastborough, Kechi, Mount Hope, Park City, Sedgwick, Viola and Valley Center. Five cities do not. They are Garden Plain, Goddard, Haysville, Maize and Mulvane.

The committee has recommended that haulers offer customers two trash container sizes – 65 and 95 gallons – and charge a minimum $1 per bag of trash and have a minimum price difference of $2 between cart sizes.

It also has recommended that rates include single-stream recycling in which all recyclables can be put in the same container for sorting later. Recycling would be voluntary under the plan.

Commission Chairman Jim Skelton asked if the county could get records from area recyclers who accept copper and other metals.

Erlenwein said that information is not provided to the county. Metal recyclers consider it to be proprietary, she said.

“That’s really not acceptable,” Skelton said.

Skelton asked for a follow-up meeting about metal recycling. The recyclers are licensed by the city, and their records should be open, he said.

He said metal recyclers should be required to share that information because copper theft continues to be a problem in the area.

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