09/05/04 — Agencies gear up for recycling

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Agencies gear up for recycling

By News-Argus Staff
Published in News on September 5, 2004 8:59 AM

Wayne Opportunity Center and Keep Wayne County Beautiful are gearing up to provide a paper recycling program in Wayne County schools.

The program is designed to reuse the paper in the schools, reduce the amount being dumped in the landfill and, at the same time, help disabled people.

Americans throw away enough office and writing paper to build a 12-foot wall stretching from New York to California every year, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council.

"Recycling paper," said Simonne Cato, director of KWCB, "was an obvious start for the program because the schools use so much of it."

The two organizations split a $50,000 grant from the state Department of Environmental and Natural Resources allowing them to start the paper and cardboard recycling program in all 31 schools.

KWCB will be responsible for educational outreach, overseeing the program and assessing its progress.

The grant enabled KWCB to buy containers for each classroom, along with a cart that will be placed at every school. Containers will be emptied weekly by each classroom into the cart, and Wayne Opportunity Center employees will pick up the paper from the cart on a regular schedule.

Wayne Opportunity Center has been recycling cardboard for almost 20 years, and Executive Director Carol Bender said the organization was excited about expanding its services.

Newark Recycled Fibers is providing a free baler so it can expand its southeastern recycling market. Newark is among the largest collectors, balers, packers and sellers of recovered paper.

Mrs. Bender said that a baler could cost between $70,000 and $200,000.

Wayne Opportunity Center offers six rehabilitation programs to the disabled and chronically unemployed. Those programs are Vocational Evaluation, Work Adjustment Services, Extended Employment, Job Placement, Job Coaching and Compensatory Education. The 100 workers receive job training through subcontract work with industry in the county. The center also has its own recycling and furniture refinishing business.

Mrs. Bender said that the recycling department was staffed by 10 people, but with the new program she expected it to double in size.

"That won't be a problem, because we have no shortage of people," she said.

She said that 20 years ago many of the people would have been placed in an institution, but now they're running balers and some can be trained to drive a forklift.

The center operates as much like regular industry as possible, with employees working seven-hour shifts.

Mrs. Bender said she learned about the grant from KWCB and thought it would be an excellent way to expand the recycling program.

"After the school program is established, we want to continue to expand throughout the community with aluminum and metal siding" recycling, she said. "We're already doing vinyl siding, though most people don't think of that as recycling."

She said they could "bale about anything."

Right now they have about 10 trailers, but she is planning to order between four to six more to help with the expanded program. Last year Wayne Opportunity Center recycled 675 tons of cardboard.

Ms. Cato said the goal was to have every school participate in the program.

All students and teachers will be able to recycle paper in their classrooms, and administrative staff will have containers that fit under the desk for office recycling.

Ms. Cato says that everyone has an important role in the success of the program, and that waste reduction would save the school system money in disposal costs.

Sprunt Hill, assistant superintendent for auxiliary services for Wayne County Schools, said the schools were looking forward to the recycling program.

Hill said he was planning to talk to principals and find out what the schools could do to help with the program.

"KWCB met with our maintenance director last week and brought him up to date on the plan. We're investigating what we need to do in the classrooms.

"We're excited," he said. "I think it's a win-win situation."