Increase in county road waste baffles locals

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The Guttenberg Rotary can redemption collection bin is located on the west side of the city garage along Haydn Street, across from the swimming pool. The Rotary Club uses 100 percent of the proceeds to support community projects. (Press photo by Caroline Rosacker)

By Caroline Rosacker

Each spring we patiently wait for the snow to melt exposing the budding earth.  We look forward to the arrival of green grass and spring flowers. Exposed ground is not the only thing the snow covers up. 

The Iowa Department of Transportation (IDOT) has an ongoing partnership with the citizens of Iowa to help maintain the appearance of our Iowa roadsides. The program helps increase public awareness of environmental needs along Iowa highways by making sections of roadsides available for adoption.

The Iowa Department of Transportation has jurisdiction over the primary highway system, which include interstates and U.S. and Iowa highways. Therefore, only these roadways can be adopted through the Iowa Adopt-A-Highway Program, leaving county roads vulnerable to excess trash. 

Barb Hansel, dedicated county road walker, consistently picks up garbage that is left along county roads throughout the year. She has always seen an increase in trash after the snow melts, but once she picks up the initial winter mess the rest of the year is sparse. She noted, "This year is worse than I have ever seen. The discarded garbage along the roads is terrible. I am picking up a lot more discarded beer cans, including the cardboard containers they are packaged in, numerous pop cans, discarded liquor bottles and tossed out bags of carry-out food containers." 

The additional garbage has prompted her to reach out to The Press in an effort to understand why people are being so careless and throwing out so much trash from their vehicles. 

Hansel theorized the increase is caused by the shutdown of redemption centers. She shared, "I assume the increase in bottles and cans is because the redemption centers are closed and local drop-off locations are no longer accepting them because of the coronavirus. I am not sure why people are inclined to throw out bags of discarded carry-out containers. I suppose that is also caused by health concerns directly related to COVID-19." 

The National Restaurant Association assures wary consumers, "The food industry already follows strict local public health guidelines. To meet these guidelines, restaurants have safety protocols and best practices in place. On top of municipal health codes, many chefs and restaurant owners have doubled their efforts to maintain healthy workplaces, requiring more frequent cleaning of work surfaces, changing out gloves repeatedly and other new protocols."

Families First Coronavirus Response Act was put into place last month. The new law provides paid sick leave for employees who are quarantined or are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and seeking a medical diagnosis. In addition, the act also covers employees who are taking care of someone under quarantine or a child out of school or day care because of the pandemic, ensuring further food safety, leaving no reason to discard take-out containers along the roadside. 

Guttenberg Rotary can redemption collection bin 

Area residents are reminded that the Guttenberg Rotary Club's can redemption collection bin is still available for disposal of qualifying cans and bottles. 

The Guttenberg Rotary Club has provided many amenities for citizens of and visitors to Guttenberg for over ninety years. To provide revenue needed for those projects the club relies on fundraisers. 

For twenty years the main source of revenue has been a can redemption/collection bin. The bin is located on the west side of the city garage along Haydn Street, and Rotary members emphasize that their revenue from can redemption is given 100 percent towards community events and projects. They need your help, support and donations to continue their work.

Accepting glass

The Rotary's collection bin has a separate area and will accept glass beverage containers that have Iowa 5 cent deposit indicated.  For convenience, safety and regulations, a large bin with a lid for glass only is provided, which sits in front of the can bin.

Rotary members ask the public to treat the area with respect. If abused by depositing non-qualifying glass, aluminum, plastic, broken glass or garbage in bins the redemption center will charge for cleanup and removal rather than paying for cooperage.

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