Boonslick Industries reminds its users that they can only recycle specified items after someone dumped about 400 pieces of hard plastic into a recycling bin.

The pieces of plastic looked industrial, and like they would be screwed into something, but the center couldn’t identify them.

Trash is an ongoing problem for the recycling center, which processes recycling for eight counties, said Recycling Manager Geoff Shackelford. Some of the trash is mistakenly placed by people who don’t understand what they can and can’t recycle, but other items, like diapers and furniture, obviously shouldn’t be put in the recycling bins, he said.

“Some people are not trying to recycle, they are just trying to find a way to easily dispose of items that no longer have value,” he said.

Unlike Columbia’s recycling center, Boonslick Industries is not automated, meaning workers have to spend more time removing trash from the recyclable materials. The center then has to pay to haul the trash away. That raises the center’s operating costs, which is especially problematic when commodity prices are low, Shackelford said.

The center has to send off about 28 cubic feet of trash a week, and most of the unwanted items come from city-wide recycling bins that aren’t supervised. The hundreds of plastic pieces that drove Shackleford to Facebook to bring attention to the problem came from the city-wide containers in Pilot Grove, he said.

Pilot Grove is usually one of the better bins, but all the unsupervised bins are susceptible to people dumping trash, he said. Even at Boonville’s recycling bin, which has cameras installed, finding out who is responsible for dumping is very difficult, he said.

The center spends a lot of money for clear signage at the bins, telling people what they can and can’t put in them. The center’s website also lays out the rules of the bins: For example, plastic, glass and aluminum food and beverage containers are okay; hard plastics, like a vacuum cleaner, plastic bags and appliances are not.

Shackleford would like to do more education about recycling, but responsibilities at the center keep him from getting out as much as possible. They are planning an education day Nov. 15 in California, Missouri, which has the most issues with trash. Reusable recycling bags will be distributed and staff will explain what residents can and can’t recycle.

Shackleford wants to do similar things in other towns, but it’ll likely be spring before he can spend all day standing by a bin to talk to people who come by, he said. In the meantime, anybody who has any questions about recycling can reach Shackleford by calling Unlimited Opportunities at 660-882-5576, or by email at recycle@uoi.org.