A recycling program in Pauls Valley has the green light to make a return after being completely shutdown in March because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Monday, Sept. 21 is the day for a drop off center on South Walnut to again start accepting items for recycling, along with some collections of cardboard at sites around town.
As director of the program Chip Pearson wants local recyclers to understand some changes are on the way.
One is to put more of an emphasis on actually recycling the items collected, while also keeping it safe for Garvin County Community Living Center clients working on crews that pick up cardboard at various sites around town.
“We've done it in a way that was lax for a long time,” Pearson says about local recycling.
“Now we're going to have to go by industry standards. We want to make sure we're recycling the things that we collect and it doesn't end up in a landfill or incinerator overseas.”
Although a few new policies will be in place for the entire program, Pearson says the free service of picking up cardboard from a business will include a written agreement.
That agreement calls for businesses included in the service to have cardboard collection sites accessible without having to go inside, cardboard boxes must be flattened, the boxes must be free from other trash or other contaminants and the collection area must be maintained and free of hazards.
Other crews of living center clients won't be returning to the practice of going inside businesses to collect office paper for recycling. This policy stays in place because of the need to keep things safe from the virus threat.
“Certainly not immediately,” Pearson said about the return of those crews. “They will not be going into businesses to collect paper.
“We will continue to protect the health of people we serve and not bring that part of the program back for some time.”
When the program opens back up on Sept. 21 items that will be accepted for recycling at the drop off center include:
• Aluminum beverage cans
• Small electronics
• Plastic No. 1
• Plastic No. 2
• Sorted office paper
Then there’s the recyclables that have been discontinued and won’t be accepted.
• Steel cans
• Mixed paper
• Mixed plastics
• Shredded paper
• Plastic bags
Recycling in Pauls Valley actually began way back in 1984. The program as it exists today started in 2013.
The living center has offered a drop off center on South Walnut with specific bins for different items accepted, along with the collection of office paper and cardboard from a number of local businesses.
Among the items accepted only aluminum cans and cardboard are actually sold as proceeds go to offset the expense of shipping the processed recyclables to Oklahoma City.
More than 850,000 pounds of recyclable materials were collected in 2019 alone through this program.
“The major emphasis of the changes surround discontinuing the collection of waste which we now know will not be recycled,” Pearson stated in documents offering more detailed information about the program.
“In order to continue with our recycling program we must offer only clean, properly sorted and uncontaminated recyclables to the market. Otherwise the cost of shipping these recyclables to Oklahoma City from our rural community will be cost prohibitive.
“Conscientious recycling requires more than just the desire to recycle. It requires understanding the subtle difference between things that can be recycled and those things that truly are recycled. It also requires more effort in homes and businesses to clean, sort and properly prepare the items they wish to recycle.”
For anyone interested in keeping a local recycling program alive it's suggested they make a genuine effort to ensure all the items they submit are clean and free of contamination.
The situation at the local “unmanned” center will be monitored to see if changes are needed, such as limiting access to the times when an attendant is present.