Lucas County, Ohio, will build a new MRF in Toledo to better manage materials currently being shipped more than 90 miles away.
The facility, which could be operational by the end of 2025, will be a public/private partnership between the county solid waste management district and a MRF operator, said Julie Riley, the county’s solid waste district manager. That operator has not yet been chosen.
The first phase of construction will consist of the MRF as well as an on-site education center. Future expansion plans on the 15-acre site could include adding composting facilities or capacity for other types of recycling, she said.
The project is intended to improve recycling systems in the region and reduce the costs of transporting materials. Most recyclables first go to a transfer station near the site of the proposed MRF but then are trucked to a recycling facility in Oberlin, Ohio, about 90 miles away, Riley said. Republic Services runs that facility.
The Toledo City Council started the facility’s development process on Tuesday when it voted to sell a parcel of land to the Lucas County Economic Development Corp. for $1. The city sees the MRF as an opportunity to have local control over both processing and marketing of the materials, creating business and job opportunities, according to council documents. The property Toledo sold to the county has been vacant since 1921.
Having a local MRF could save the city $8,000 to $10,000 in transportation costs every month, Ryan Murphy, Toledo’s solid waste manager, told local station WTVG.
The county will also buy two other adjacent properties, one from the state and one from a railroad, Riley said. The property is in a strategic location that will have rail access and is close enough to the Maumee River to have potential barge access, she said.
It’s not known yet how much it will cost to build and operate the facility. City and county officials expect to hammer out more details of the design and operations process in coming months.
The project could also help boost recycling rates. The Council of the Great Lakes Region and other organizations have undertaken actions in Ohio and other states to streamline recycling and prevent more plastic waste from entering the environment. The group’s recent action plan calls for infrastructure improvements among its circular economy strategies.Ohio EPA has also set recycling goals for the state solid waste management districts. It encourages the districts to “reduce and recycle” 25% of the solid waste generated by the residential and commercial sector.