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Athens City Council meets atthe Athens Municipal Court on Washington Street , Feb. 26, 2024.

Athens residents express support for Athens-Hocking Recycling Centers

Athens residents packed Athens City Council chambers for its meeting Monday night to express their support for Athens-Hocking Recycling Centers, or AHRC, following the Council’s decision to enter a contract with Rumpke Waste and Recycling and leave the long-time local partner AHRC. 

Attendees urged the Council to join the Council of Governments, or COG, for resource management; attendees were displeased with the Council’s decision to enter a contract with Rumpke because they said it hurts local business and will not be as sustainable as AHRC. 

The council entered the contract with Rumpke because it would lower the price the city would pay for waste services. Rumpke would cost about $1,600,000 for residential services and $421,000 for franchise services, which is at a yearly cost of $2,000,000 without operation cans according to a previous Post report. The same report stated that AHRC would cost the city about $1,700,000 for residential services and nearly $610,000 for franchise services, which is a total cost of nearly $2,300,000 without operational cans.

Council President Sam Crowl cited over 40 emails and phone calls to council members calling to join the resource management COG.

After the first 30 minutes of discussion, Councilmember Alan Swank, D-4th Ward, made a motion to call for orders of the day, a function to halt further discussion of the AHRC-Rumpke debate. The rest of the Council unanimously declined Swank’s motion, and discussion proceeded. 

Law Director Lisa Eliason said it was the first time this council body had heard a motion calling for the function.

Among those who spoke to the Council was Nancy Pierce, a member of Athens ReThink Plastics. She criticized Rumpke’s process of recycling plastics, which includes chemical recycling and burning recycled plastic. Pierce said burning plastics then get released into the environment and releases toxins into the air.

“Chemical recycling is the latest deceit by the oil and gas industry and plastic industries to convince the public that it’s fine to have plastics because they’re recyclable,” Pierce said.  “Many experts are now saying that plastics are as much of a threat to our environment as climate change, and Rumpke is sending our plastics … for chemical recycling.”

Attendees also expressed a preference for AHRC’s service, citing that AHRC aligns with Athens’s values of sustainability and supporting local business. Sean White, representing Little Fish Brewing Company, said he fears Rumpke would not uphold these values. He also said he would be willing to pay extra to ensure AHRC stays in Athens.

“I’m just scared about this going into an impersonal nature that doesn’t really reflect the view of what a lot of people here think Athens is about,” White said. “We’re willing to pay more money to keep AHRC in town.”

Benjamin Shonk, who works for AHRC as an organic processor, told the Council his job is at risk if the city of Athens does not renew its contract with AHRC. Shonk, who graduated from Ohio University in 2018 in sustainable horticulture, said his full-time job has become a part-time position in light of the negotiations.

“2018 was the same year the last Athens sustainability plan was written, so it gave me a high hope for living here in Athens,” Shonk said. “But I am nervous and shaking here today because it is on the line, and the people who can decide my fate and future here are the people in front of me.”

Crowl told attendees the COG matter would be brought up again in its next Meeting of the Whole. Crowl said the meeting will happen Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday of next week, urging residents to pay attention to Council websites and local services to confirm the specific date.


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