County Recycling update
It’s taken a lot of PEP to build an Idaho County Recycling program and that’s what area recyclers have provided: PEP! (participation, enthusiasm, pride) and more PEP! (perserverance, energy, passion). The current momentum is palpable and astounding. Community PEP has turned a good idea into a wildly successful (ad)venture. Community PEP has taken Idaho County Recycling from 0 to 137 tons in ten months. Community PEP has kept mountains of cardboard, cans, paper products and plastics out of the waste stream and insured that those items will be repurposed as other commodities.
One of ICR’s most important Landfill Diversionary Tactics is the new cardboard compactor located at Cash and Carry Foods in Grangeville. Since cardboard accounts for 60% of total waste generated by many businesses, ICR determined that a permanently situated compactor would be a win-win-win solution for area stores, the environment and ICR. A monthly subscription fee, based on volume, is designed to give businesses 24-hour keyed access to the compactor and reduce their monthly solid waste expense while providing ICR with a source of income. All the compacted cardboard is used to make new consumer products within 180 days of collection which greatly reduces the bulk and waste in landfills. And now, for a modest donation per load, the compactor will be open to the public each Wednesday on a trial basis. Beginning August 4, from 6:00 to 7:30 p.m., patrons may bring their flattened cardboard to the compactor (entering from Main St.). ICR volunteers will be on hand to off-load the cardboard and explain the process. ICR is exploring the possibilities of establishing compactors in other communities. A related advantage of the local compactor is that ICR can switch from a generator-dependent compactor at the monthly sites to a large, non-mechanized container which could create more portability and options for setting up at other sites as the program grows.
Active recyclers know that cleaning, sorting and storing recyclables between collection days is a challenge of space management – but is amply rewarded by the feel-good knowledge that recycling is the right and responsible thing to do. ICR has added a new buzz word: “smash-tics”. We can nearly double our monthly plastic poundage by compaction and so are now asking patrons to stomp and smash those plastic containers. And remember the ICR acceptance guidelines for plastics: the opening must be smaller (even fractionally) than the base and the lids need to be removed (and discarded).
When the ICR committee predicted a recycling slow-down during the summer months, county recyclers proved our presumptions faulty. Even with the temporary cessation of school recycling, summer vacations, a slew of weekend activities and road construction, the bins filled up. In June, the unexpected spike in amassed recyclables within the county resulted in Lewis-Clark Recyclers actually paying ICR a small dividend from the market profits. In July, the Kooskia and Fenn sites netted a combined 11 tons. As participation and tonnage grows and the markets improve, we are inching closer to our break-even goal.
The hardest task of the Idaho County Recycling Committee has been to grow a county program with no county funding. We originally steeled ourselves to focus on the basics of recycling in order to keep the horse in front of the cart. Now, with a little vision and a lot of luck and hard work things are beginning to fall into place. Last spring ICR was the recipient of two significant grants and those monies will be used for education, advertising, monthly site expenses and the compactor purchase. We have developed a great partnership with Lewis-Clark Recyclers which generously supplies the equipment, expertise and brokering experience above and beyond the contract obligations. ICR has a cadre of first class volunteers which are the backbone and heart of the program. Although we rotate through a list of about 60 site volunteers and have added some energetic members to the organizational committee, we are always looking for new worker bees with fresh ideas to hedge against volunteer burnout and program stagnation. Hopefully, by our first anniversary, we will be confident and solvent enough to introduce our ideas for expansion. For more information about Idaho Çounty Recycling, please call 983-2843, 926-7231 or 983-2821.