Bob Downing

Portage County residents early next year will be able to throw all their trash into all-in-one 95-gallon bins, ending the trouble of sorting plastic, paper, metal and other recyclables.

A single-stream recycling system costing nearly $3.4 million will make it easier and more convenient for residents, said Bill Steiner, director of the Portage County Solid Waste Management District.

“The ease of recycling will be the biggest benefit,” he said.

The county is confident that recycling will increase 30 to 40 percent and that the volume of trash — material that goes to landfills — will likely drop 5 to 10 percent, he said.

The change also will be good for workers.

The county has acquired five new automated trucks with mechanical arms to pick up and dump the containers.

The new trucks will reduce the work required of staffers and will likely result in fewer injury claims by drivers injured on the job, Steiner said. That was a major goal of purchasing the new trucks.

The new trucks cost nearly $2 million. The county got a $200,000 state grant toward one truck.

The new system will be far more efficient, Steiner said. Each truck will be able to handle up to 1,100 houses per day, compared to the current 300 to 400 houses per day under the old system, he said.

Aaron Near of Kent is looking forward to the new program. “This is such great news,” he said in a social media post. “This is awesome.”

Starting the week of Jan. 4, the 95-gallon bins will be distributed to residents of Kent, Ravenna and Brady Lake and Brimfield, Mantua, Shalersville, Franklin and Atwater townships. Pickups will begin the week of Jan. 11.

Rootstown Township may be joining the system soon.

The bins are capable of holding up to 400 pounds of materials. They will be provided to residents at no charge. Senior citizens are eligible for a smaller, 64-gallon container, if they prefer.

The materials will be hauled to Waste Management’s facility in Akron where the trash will be separated from recyclables.

The county’s long-time recycling facility in Brimfield Township will close. The plant, built in 1992, is just not equipped to handle garbage and recyclables together, Steiner said. “Closing it just made the most sense,” he said.

Local communities can commit to curbside recycling with any hauler under that plan.

Previously, Portage County offered curbside recycling to 10 communities including Streetsboro and Aurora. The recyclables were separated into two 18-gallon plastic bins. There were also 14 drop-off locations for recyclables across the county.

The drop-offs switched to single stream disposal last summer. Cardboard goes in one bin and all other recyclables go into another bin.

In 2014, Portage County collected 148,410 tons of residential-commercial trash, of which 11,000 tons of recyclables were extracted at the Brimfield plant. It made about $300,000 in profit that year from the sale of recyclables, Steiner said.

The biggest commodity by weight has been glass, Steiner said.

It recycles No. 1-7 plastics, drink cartons, cardboard, newspaper, magazines, office paper, junk mail, aluminum, tin cans and glass.

The county is expecting that total to drop because it will be selling mixed recycled materials that will fetch a lower price because of contamination.

Bob Downing can be reached at 330-996-3745.