Good service. Good neighbors. Good stewards.

That’s what South Lebanon Township’s new yard waste and recycling center really is, all wrapped up in one. Barely six months old, the South Lebanon Township Yard Waste and Recycling Center is already a hit with local residents. Located on 45 acres of land at 3 Linden Road off State Drive, directly east of the Lebanon VA Medical Center, the yard waste and recycling center provides convenience for environmentally conscious individuals who live in South Lebanon Township and beyond.

“It’s important for a couple of reasons,” said South Lebanon Township manager Jamie Yiengst. “It’s a service for maintaining properties. If they (residents) don’t have a place to go with it, it could just sit on their properties, so it helps keep them looking nice. It’s also good for the environment. We wouldn’t want them putting it in with their garbage.”

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“Success for the center means people using it,” continued Yiengst. “It’s a service for residents. We’re really off to a good start. We’ve had a lot of good feedback. There is an unbelievable amount of cardboard being recycled there.”

For an annual fee of $40, South Lebanon township residents can take unwanted green waste such as tree branches, leaves, garden plants and bushes – but no grass clippings, tree stumps or sod – to the yard waste and recycling center. The center also offers processed mulch to its gate-key card holders at no additional charge.

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The South Lebanon Township Yard Waste and Recycling Center accepts recyclables like aluminum cans, steel and tin cans, corrugated cardboard and mixed paper. Much of the center’s operation is performed on a self-serve basis, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. from April to Sept. 30 and 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. from October to March.

“We as a community have a responsibility to be efficient in how we address these things,” said Steve Krause, South Lebanon Township’s board of supervisors’ chairman. “We encourage residents to get involved with the program and use the facility the way it was intended to be used. With the recyclables, all these things have a value. But it’s got to be done right. We just want people to be good team players.”

“The original idea was the serve a need our residents had,” said Yiengst. “We do offer curb-side pick-up of yard waste, once in the spring and once in the fall. But sometimes it’s not convenient or sometimes residents have more than can be picked up at one time. This is a lot more convenient for the residents.”

The South Lebanon Township Yard Waste and Recycling Center took about two-and-a-half years to build, and much of the construction work was performed by township employees. Construction began in the early months of 2018, and the center officially opened in the fall of 2020.

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About 250 local residents have already taken advantage of the recycling center’s services. South Lebanon’s is one of five or six such municipal yard waste and recycling centers operated in the county.

“We did have an agreement with North Cornwall township where our residents could go there and use their recycling center,” said Yiengst. “But not everybody thought that was convenient. We had like 80 residents going over there, or they’d have to run out to the (Lebanon County) Refuse Authority. Part of what’s going on is that you’re no longer permitted to burn (yard waste and paper). That’s when the recycling centers started popping up. We had to have alternatives, and this is it.”

“A lot of these are renewable resources,” said Krause. “Landfill space is precious, and you have to educate people on what to do. It’s important. We’re recycling materials that qualify. Good stewardship is the key. That’s the underlying main reason we do what we do. It is the right thing to do.”

The South Lebanon Township Yard Waste and Recycling Center cost about $950,000 to build, but the majority of it was funded through three 90-10 match grants through the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection. South Lebanon’s $100,000 portion of the project came from the township’s general fund budget.

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“The grants from DEP were critical,” said Krause. “We couldn’t have done it without them. It was really a big benefit to the township to receive those funds. You’ve got to meet a lot of requirements to get them.”

“Prior to us having our facility, we partnered with North Cornwall’s (recycling) facility,” said Yiengst. “We did that for a number of years. They were just being good neighbors. We didn’t think it would be more than they could handle. With the grant money, they (DEP) like to see that you’re helping neighbors.”

If in fact that grant money turned out to be a windfall for South Lebanon, then the township has returned the favor to neighboring municipalities. Since South Lebanon’s Yard Waste and Recycling Center has opened, the township has offered its services to residents of Cornwall Borough, Heidelberg Township and West Cornwall Township, at an annual fee of $50.

“Prior to us getting our own facility, North Cornwall extended the use of their facility to us,” said Krause. “It helps defray the costs of operating the facility. You do get some income from recycling. But you spread it around when you can.”

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Ultimately, the success of South Lebanon Township’s Yard Waste and Recycling Center will hinge on the sheer number of local residents who take advantage of the services it provides. In that way, the facility is off to a great start.

“I definitely see greater use coming out of it,” said Krause. “It’s the natural evolution of things. I just wish there were better ways to handle plastics.”

“The township is grateful to DEP for the facility’s funding,” said Yiengst. “Without those grants, we wouldn’t have the yard waste and recycling center. So far, it’s been going very well.”

Because maintaining the only earth we have been given is very important.

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