West Jordan recycling center promises to fix problem of trash littering nearby neighborhood

WEST JORDAN, Utah -- After complaints from nearby homes and businesses, a West Jordan recycling center says it is taking steps to help prevent trash from flying away into yards and trees.

On Monday, Fox 13 reported how several neighbors said they've experienced garbage littering their neighborhood that they're left to clean up from the Waste Management recycling plant on 4000 West.

A day later, documents obtained from the Salt Lake County Health Department show a neighboring business also complained about the trash.

"...waste is blowing from the facility onto the complaining business' property," the April 17 complaint states. "This has been going on since November of 2017."

Two days later, the health department received a complaint from a resident.

"[Complainant] states that waste is not being contained and is blowing in the wind," that report states.

Walt Mathiason, plant manager of the Waste Management Salt Lake City Material Recovery Facility, said they receive 4,000 tons of material each month. The West Jordan facility is the only Waste Management recycling plant in Utah, he said.

Trucks cart in the recyclable stuff, then dump it in an area outside to be sorted.

It's that area that Mathiason said becomes a problem in the wind.

Another problem is that about 30 percent of the material in those piles isn't recycled material, he said. It's garbage.

Julie Barfuss has seen that first hand. She lives nearby, and said she spent three and a half hours picking up random pieces of trash that blew into her front yard Saturday.

"There was all kind of crazy [items].  We had like dirty diapers, and there was someone's payroll with people's social security numbers on it," she said.

Barfuss said they also see many plastic bags, which are not recyclable, get stuck high up in the trees.

After the Salt Lake County Health Department received the first complaint last week, Mathiason said they contacted him to ask what the plant was doing to clean up.

"We take being a good neighbor very seriously," Mathiason said.

That's why he said they've now come up with a plan to help solve the issue.

First, he said they plan to install additional thirty-foot tall netting that includes a netting roof over the outside area where loose trash sits, in order to catch debris and stop it from leaving the area.

Current netting only covers a portion of the area, and he said the new netting will cover the whole area.

Second, he said they'll change their gate system. Right now, their entry and exit gates stay open all day.

"When trucks come in or out, [the gates] will close behind them, helping to keep material in the yard," Mathiason explained.

He said Waste Management is looking at other ideas as well.

Until those steps are implemented, Mathiason said they're offering a clean up crew for all neighboring homes and businesses.

Mathiason urged residents and business owners to call him when they have issues.

"Even if it's every day, we'll send a crew out to clean up," he said.

All of these efforts, he indicated, are part of trying to keep the neighbors happy, and trash free.

The City of West Jordan said after code enforcement took in complaints about the trash, they're now reviewing the facility's conditional use permit for possible changes.