Bellevue, along with the rural areas and other cities in Jackson County have moved to Dittmer Recycling of Dubuque in recent months to drop off recycling.  

This, after the announcement that Imagine the Possibilities, Inc., of Maquoketa would be getting out of the recycling business after several years in the red.

Recycling is popular for many Bellevue residents, and some have obviously noticed a change in the way their recycling is picked up and the methods being used. Glass not being picked up right now, as Dittmer does not take glass. Because of the amount of transportation and processing along with the safety of handling and sorting glass and broken glass, it doesn’t make environmental or economic sense to recycle glass, according to Scott Dittmer of Dittmer recycling.

However, glass recycling may be here in the near future, as Bellevue City Administrator Abbey Skrivseth said that city leaders are working on a drop-off site for glass right here in town. However, there are a few hold ups.

“The City is looking into options on recycling glass and possibly having a drop off location in Bellevue but nothing is official yet.  “We are still weighing out the options and how the process would safely work," said Skrivseth. “The public works department has spoken to the City of Dubuque and they said they will charge Bellevue $30 per ton to drop off glass in Dubuque's storage bunker.  Then, Dubuque has a company come in and is charged a fee to take the glass away.”

In terms of recycling other items, some in Bellevue have noticed that items no longer are separated in containers and instead are being collected by the garbage truck.

“Dittmer, which is a big facility, has a one stream system and large machines that separate out the items,” said Skrivseth, who noted  that using the garbage truck is more efficient with that scenario. “So yes, your items are still being sorted and recycled, just in a different way than it was done before. This is how Dubuque and other cities (actually, pretty much all cities) collect recycling.  Jackson county was unique because Imagine the Possibilities (formerly DAC), required items to be separated, not the City.”

She noted that the main benefit of Dittmer taking the City’s recycling is that residents no longer have to separate their recyclables

“No longer requiring our citizens to sort their recycling out is a big benefit to citizens and the city. Most people do not realize the previous sorting requirement was set by Imagine the Possibilities and not the City. We hope more people will start to recycle with this change. More recycling will mean less garbage sent to the landfill,” Skrivseth said.

With Imagine the Possibilities in Maquoketa now officially closed, Dittmer now owns one of the only recycling processors in eastern Iowa, although Scott County also has a large recycling center.

In the past few years, recycling markets have tanked, so many communities have to pay to recycle rather than getting money for the recyclable products. That will likely be the case for any future recycling in the county for the time-being.

Imagine was losing about $180,000 annually when they shut the doors, despite a Waste Authority subsidy and hauling the county’s rural bins.

The Waste Authority assesses about $16 per capita to the towns and county for the transfer station, landfill monitoring, household hazardous waste, recycling and more. Without a subsidy going to Imagine the Possibilities, the per-capita assessment has gone down to approximately $13 per person.

The difference is allocated to the expense associated with taking recycling to a new location, such as Dittmer.

“Overall, Bellevue and Preston are unique in  Jackson County as we are the only two cities that pickup and haul our own garbage and recycling. Other cities in the county have one to 12 private haulers come into their town on a weekly basis to take care of this service” said Skrivseth.

Skrivseth also noted that the Bellevue City Council and Bellevue Public Works Department had a tour lined up to check out the Dittmer facility in Dubuque this past March, but it was cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic and has not been rescheduled.  

More on recycling, and the proposed drop-off for glass in Bellevue, is expected to take place at the next city council meeting.