In discussing recycling, Lincoln County Health Department Director Kathi Hooper made clear what the benefit of recycling and other waste reduction has had for Lincoln County Landfill. Hooper said that a survey of the landfill outside Libby in October 2018 showed an increase in the life expectancy for the current cell. The last survey was conducted in October 2017.
Hooper said that they had previously estimated about 55,000 cubic yards were being filled every year. At that rate, it was estimated that it would take about seven years to fill the remaining space in the existing cell. Hooper told the City-County Board of Health at a meeting that evening that they are currently at about 32,000 cubic yards per year, despite an increase in traffic to the landfill.
According to the Health Department’s Annual Report, 189 tons of material were recycled in Lincoln County last year. The recycling program was started in 2011 to help reduce the amount of material going into the landfill. “So, we now have 11.3 years of life remaining in that cell,” Hooper said. This is despite the halt to plastic recycling at the end of 2017.
The annual report also notes that the landfill stopped accepting mixed paper in 2018 due to contamination issues. Countries such as China and India, which have taken in much of the world’s recycling, have over the past few years implemented increasingly stringent standards on what they will accept, and bales of material being “contaminated” with unrelated material has been frequently cited as one of the reasons. However, according to the annual report, Lincoln County was able to continue recycling paper products by sorting the paper products.