Getting to know our neighbor: OEMA

By: Sheila Barnard

20190328_133440In honor of Earth Day, we sat down with David Griesel, the general manager of OEMA here in El Reno.

20190328_133417For a little background, OEMA is a Title 60 public trust. There are eight trustees on the board that includes Commissioner Anderson. The Canadian County Commissioners approve all indebtedness. Changes to the trust must be approved by the Canadian County Commissioners.


There are 2,000 customers in Canadian County and the neighboring counties of Grady, Caddo, Blaine, and Kingfisher. They handle solid waste for 10 communities.

In 1971 the land was purchased for the landfill. In 1974 the bond was approved. Recycling started in 1994 for Minco and Kingfisher, 2012 for Mustang, and last year in El Reno. They also do recycling pick up once a month in Calumet, Union City, and Okarche. Yukon and El Reno also dispose of their waste water sludge at the landfill.

20190328_132052They have cardboard recycling receptacles in every community and anyone can bring their recycling to the OEMA building at no charge. Materials that are handled at the recycling center are white paper, newspaper, cardboard, recyclable plastics, and cans.

Helping a citizen unload recycling

Not all plastics are recyclable however. Things like toys and cooking utensils are not recyclable here. Metals are also not accepted at our recycling center and need to be taken to the landfill.

20190328_132229Even the polycarts are made from recycled plastics! They also have a 10 year warranty and will send a brand new one if one is damaged. The El Reno OEMA receives their carts from Rehrig Pacific. The gas produced at the landfill is also put to use. The brick plant used the recycled gas to run their kiln.

20190328_132208Residents from The Center For Family Love make up the crew at the recycling center and litter pickers for the landfill.

OEMA is in the process of switching their trucks to compressed natural gas with Sparq Natural Gas. This is a big help to the environment. The difference in emissions is huge. From 238 pts for the old trucks to 13 pts for the compressed natural gas trucks.

A big issue with recycling is clean materials. Making sure you do not put contaminated materials into the recycling carts is very important. Any items that are contaminated with food, liquids, or other contaminates cannot be recycled. They will have to be sent to the landfill. Non recyclable items put in recycling carts also takes more time and labor as all the trash must be sorted out before the recyclable items can be recycled. Then someone has to take the trash items to the landfill.

Each year elementary school students come to OEMA. To teach the children about the landfill, they make a candy landfill! They even gave us the recipe!

I would like to thank David and everyone else at OEMA for speaking with me and showing me around. I was pleasantly surprised at how much I learned. I had a great experience there.

Remember, make sure you are only putting recyclables in the recycling receptacles! Skulls are not recyclable!

Animal skull found with cardboard recycling