The Ottumwa Courier

Wapello County

July 29, 2013

Changes at Tenco frustrating but necessary, director says

OTTUMWA — Tenco's can redemption center has reopened, though new hours and rules have rubbed some the wrong way.

Tenco, which reopened on Wednesday, was closed for two weeks to install new equipment and play catch-up with a backlog of 1.3 million cans.

"People come from miles away with cans, and what was happening was we were falling way behind," said Tenco executive director Ben Wright.

Now, the goal is to keep the center from sliding back into the stress of practically being buried by too many cans, which they hope to control by limiting the center's hours to 20 per week, compared to the 32.5 hours per week it was open previously.

"We'd love to be open more if we thought we could handle it, but this seems to be about what we can be open and keep up with what comes in," Wright said. "I know there are a lot of frustrated people out there and we feel bad about it and wish we could change, but there's just no way."

Reduced hours mean longer lines, with some waiting up to 45 minutes or an hour. One way to eliminate that wait is to donate the cans to the center's donation box instead of waiting in line to redeem the 5 cents per can. Not only is there no wait, Wright said, but the money goes back to the individuals with disabilities that Tenco serves.

"We're only taking in cans that are redeemable by them having to put cans in clear bags," he said. "What happened previously was people would bring in cans in black and white plastic bags and write a number on it. Now, we're saying all bags have to be inspected to make sure they're redeemable and there's no glass, for the protection of the people in here."

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