When four used tires were placed next to the recycling bins at Olentangy Liberty High School on Aug. 15, Jenifer Way-Young threw them in the back of her car and disposed of them properly.
As the recycling and litter-prevention program coordinator of Keep Delaware County Beautiful, Way-Young deals with misplaced items at county recycling bins about three times a year on average.
But the Liberty High School incident was just one in a string of five illegal dropoffs that have occurred in the last two weeks.
On Aug. 12, two computer monitors were left in the Sunbury recycling bin; a dehumidifier and car motor showed up the next day in a Scioto Township bin.
Olentangy Liberty High School fell victim two more times last week when a mattress was dumped in the yard between the recycling bins and the sports fields parking lot and a television was left lying face down next to the bins Friday, Aug. 23.
"The items that we accept, they're all listed on these bins, so when they're dropping these things off, it's obvious that a mattress and TV are not one of those items that we accept," said Delaware General Health District spokeswoman Traci Whittaker.
Items accepted at the dropoff bins include glass bottles and jars, plastic bottles and jugs with necks, aluminum and steel cans and a multitude of paper products, including phone books, catalogs, cardboard and paperboard.
Way-Young said the Olentangy Liberty High School dropoff site is one of the busiest in the county, with pickups occurring every Friday and Monday to haul away an average of a million tons of recycled materials each year.
To accommodate the increased use, Way-Young said the health district has been tweaking its pickup schedules and saving cash that can used for additional bins -- not for disposing of unrecyclable items.
In addition to the staff time it takes to deal with the unrecyclable items, certain ones, such as mattresses, must be picked up by a trash hauler, which charges for its services.
Way-Young said having so many incidents of illegal dumping could even result in an increase in the prices the Delaware-Knox-Marion-Morrow Solid Waste Management District charges to pick up, sort and recycle the materials.
"If it's not on the bin, I would hope that the resident would reach out to me and I could find a home for that material," she said. "Illegal dumping is not the answer."
Residents can call Way-Young at 740-203-2076 to determine how to dispose of materials that aren't listed on the recycling bins. The Delaware General Health District website also lists special dropoff events throughout the county, including one Oct. 5 at the Delaware County Fairgrounds.
"We're about education," Way-Young said, "but if this continues, we will need to speak with law enforcement and have them become involved more actively."