CATEGORY: Lafayette County
HED: Oxford to begin recycling Feb. 1
By Errol Castens
OXFORD – After a year-long preparation effort, Oxford’s recycling program is set to begin operation.
The city’s 3,200-square-foot recycling center, located at the solid waste transfer station on Pea Ridge Road south of town, is nearly complete and will open Feb. 1.
Despite the fact that recycling will not be profitable in the foreseeable future, Oxford officials are committed to the project.
“We never anticipate that it will be a money maker for us, but just to keep all of this garbage out of our landfills is worthwhile,” said Mayor Pat Lamar. “We think of (Oxford) as a step ahead in Mississippi, if not the South and the nation. Rather than react to something, we are proactive. “
In its early stages the center will accept a limited number of materials. Because they are readily marketable and account for a large percentage of landfill space, unbound newsprint and unwaxed, corrugated cardboard will be central to the project. Office paper must be divided into separate white ledger and office mix (glossy advertisements, colored flyers and junk mail) to be usable. Other paper, such as magazines, phone books and catalogs will also be accepted.
Both aluminum and steel (often called “tin”) cans will be accepted. Food containers should be rinsed out, and aerosols must be completely emptied. Neither aluminum foil nor any cans that held hazardous materials (paint, paint thinner, pesticides, etc.) can be accepted for routine recycling.
Worn-out rechargeable batteries will be accepted for recycling. Examples are those batteries from cellular phones, camcorders, power tools, bar code readers and rechargeable flashlights.
Long time coming
When Karen Malone accepted the job of recycling coordinator for the city of Oxford last March, she never anticipated that it would be nearly a year before the project could collect its first materials.
One plan was to locate the center in the former municipal animal shelter on Highway 7 South, but the fast-increasing value of the property prompted aldermen to plan a new building at the transfer station. An advertisement for bids to build the structure within 30 days drew no takers, and in a second proposal, bids came in over budget.
“That’s when we decided we would go back to the dog pound,” Malone said. Several city department heads, though, figured they could make the new building feasible by coordinating subcontractors’ work themselves.
“We actually got a larger building for less money than we had anticipated,” Malone added.
Expanding the effort
Oxford has already applied for a grant from the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality to expand the building, allowing the center to store truckload quantities of recyclables, thus attracting better prices and enabling it to recycle plastics, which must be protected from the elements.
Other plans include having satellite locations at area schools and possibly at commercial sites as well.
One of the keys to the projected success of Oxford’s recycling effort will be the participation of the University of Mississippi. With some 3,000 employees and 11,000 students generating waste paper and other materials, Ole Miss will furnish its own personnel and vehicles to deliver recyclables to the center.
While the City of Oxford will operate the center, anyone may drop off recyclable materials.
“I’ve had some people who live in Water Valley and Holly Springs but work in Oxford ask if they could recycle here,” Malone said. “That’s no problem; they’re welcome.”