Local recycling unaffected

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN CYNTHIA MARTENS
by Cynthia Martens

The Hillsboro community can continue recycling glass-which is good news in light of recent developments in Wichita, where one of two recycling companies will soon no longer accept glass.

Weyerheuser, the primary Wichita recycler, announced it would not accept glass after Dec. 1. But McPherson Area Solid Waste Utility, the company collecting recyclables in Hillsboro, said their situation is status quo.

“We’re still going to be taking the glass,” said Rick Kleinschmidt, recycling/composting supervisor for the utility. “We don’t actually deal with Weyerheuser on our glass products. I do a direct deal with the place that reclaims it.”

The current recycling program in Hillsboro began in 1998, and Delores Dalke, mayor of Hillsboro, said it has been successful. But she has also seen fluctuations.

“It kind of goes back and forth from time to time,” Dalke said. “Different products at different times have markets, and then they don’t.”

Dalke referred to information in the Salina Journal, which quoted John Hawk, operations manager for the McPherson utility, as saying the present shipping costs of recycled glass is expensive. But he cautioned that discontinuing glass recycling would “be a mistake.”

“If the prices increase, and the recycler changes its mind and again starts accepting glass, it would confuse customers,” Hawk said.

The local recycling program is coordinated by Paul Jantzen, 75, a retired natural-sciences teacher who taught at Hillsboro High School for 33 years until 1992.

The recycling facility is located behind the Cooperative Grain and Supply tire store with an entrance off of Birch Street.

Dalke said the city doesn’t make any money from the recycling center and offers the service as a courtesy to the community.

Hours of operation are 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., Thursdays and 9 a.m. to noon, Saturdays.

The area is surrounded by a fence, but Jantzen said some people leave items outside the fence, which causes littering problems. Paper products can be picked up by the wind and strewn around the surrounding area.

Jantzen said in addition to the recyclables, the center will accept household wastes and flammables. The household-waste category includes such items as batteries, drain cleaners and photographic chemicals. In the flammables category, he will accept gasoline, paint thinner and aerosol cans.

The center is staffed by volunteers including the Noon and Evening Lions, Cub Scouts, Kiwanis, Sons of the American Legion, Leo’s Club, the Hillsboro South Cottonwood 4-H Club and Sherry Fields, fifth-grade teacher at Hillsboro Elementary School.

“We don’t have all of our dates for volunteer spots filled,” Jantzen said. “So we need a few more groups to volunteer, and they could contact me or the mayor.”

Jantzen often arrives ahead of the volunteers to open the gate, orients any new helpers and stays to work with them.

“I suggest to them we help all the people who come, especially the elderly,” he said.

Some people are familiar with the routines and go right to work, Jantzen said, but others “look bewildered and ask us for help. And we have information cards there, too.”

Information cards are also available at city hall and include information about which products can be recycled.

The following amended list includes items accepted at the center:

–Aluminum-aluminum cans, such as soda cans, should be rinsed and flattened. The utility recently announced it would not accept aluminum foil or pans, so Jantzen keeps a separate box for those items and takes them to Fields. “She’s a great recycler, and she takes them to Abilene or to Wichita,” Jantzen said;

— Corrugated cardboard-cleaned boxes should be folded and flattened. Cereal boxes, shoe boxes and paper egg cartons are also acceptable in this category;

— Glass-clear, green or brown bottles and jars, which have been rinsed, are accepted and labels may be left on. Other colors are not allowed;

— Plastic-only Polyethylene Teraphthalate and High Density Polyethylene plastics are accepted locally. Look for PETE 1 and HDPE 2 and the recycling symbol on plastics before bringing them to the center. The utility will not accept margarine tubs, but Jantzen takes these to Fields who recycles them;

–?Newspaper-newspapers shouldn’t be in paper bags or wrapped in string, and ads on slick paper should be removed from them;

— Tin cans-rinse and clean the cans, and labels can be left on. Actually made of steel and only about 5-percent tin, Jantzen said it’s important that these containers are clean, especially in the summer time “because they get a little raunchy,” he said;

— Office papers-included in this category are phone books. Jantzen takes the covers off to be recycled with the magazines and recycles the inside of the books with the newspapers.

Jantzen and Kleinschmidt agreed that cardboard and newspaper are the most abundant products being recycled these days, but there isn’t one product at the bottom of the proverbial barrel.

“The others are kind of an even flow,” Kleinschmidt said.

Dalke and Jantzen said they appreciate those who recycle and would like to see more people doing it.

So why recycle?

“Because it’s the right thing to do,” Jantzen said.

And it’s the right thing for the following reasons, according to the recycling brochure:

— Garbage glut-In a lifetime, the average American will throw away 600 times his or her adult weight in garbage. This means a 150-pound adult leaves a legacy of 90,000 pounds of trash for future generations;

— No more space-Landfills are filling up and closing down all over the country. Seventy percent of America’s landfills closed between 1978 and 1988. By 1993, 2,000 more closed;

— Health and safety-Even if all the landfills were available, they’d be health and safety hazards. Most were built before safety standards became a high priority, and they’re not equipped to stop toxic liquid from seeping into the groundwater;

— Burning constraints-Burning garbage spews out gases that contribute to acid rain, toxic heavy metals and dioxins. They also produce millions of tons of toxic ash, which still has to go into landfills;

— Time issue-A study done for the Environmental Protection Agency indicated that the total time used by a recycler is only 73 minutes per month. That’s a little more than two minutes per day;

— Economical concerns-Money is saved when there’s less garbage and consumers pay less to dump it;

— Natural-resource preservation-Using old paper to make new paper saves trees. Every day, America cuts down two million trees but throws away 42 million newspapers;

— Energy savings-By recycling one aluminum can, consumers can save enough energy to run a television set for three years.

Kleinschmidt said the recycling industry has been growing since he joined the company eight years ago.

“There for a little while, it seemed like it tapered off a little bit, but it’s still been increasing every year,” he said.

“A lot of people in (McPherson County) do a very good job of bringing in the materials and having it sorted and cleaned out for us.”

And how’s Hillsboro doing?

“Hillsboro’s been a very good sight,” Kleinschmidt said.

And the glass collection should continue as usual, he said.

“The warehouse allows us to handle a lot more glass, and we don’t have to worry about it on a monthly basis.

“It’s always been a sticky spot, but we’ve still been able to move the material.”

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