MDEQ offers recycling grants

CORINTH – A recent conference in Oxford aimed at boosting city recycling programs offered plenty of ideas on how to use grants announced last week by the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality.
However, the city of Corinth will have to take the lead in acquiring one of the $100,000 grants, which are open to cities and counties, said Andrea Rose, coordinator for Keep Corinth Beautiful.
“I’ve asked to be put on the agenda to make a report from the conference at the next city board meeting,” Rose said.
Corinth currently has an unattended drop-off recycling location at Fulton Drive and Tate Street for newspaper, plastics and cardboard. At an April city board meeting, resident Betty Fulwood, on behalf of her Town and Country Homemakers Club, asked the city to again consider curbside recycling.
The problem with curbside programs, Rose said, is that they require high population density to break even financially or to be profitable.
“Amberlyn Liles of Oxford told us about Oxford’s program, which a lot of people cite as a success as one of the longer-running ones in our area,” Rose said. “They’ve been operating for 10 years and started off with drop-off locations. After five years they started a curbside pilot program and now offer curbside pickup, which residents must sign up for. They pick up once a week, and it costs the city money. Even with grant money they have only broken even one year, in 2007, but the city and the residents have decided it’s worth the investment.”
For those who don’t sign up for curbside recycling, Oxford still has attended drop-off locations.
Examples from other communities could be considered for Corinth as well, Rose said.
Columbus has a privatized recycling pickup by Big Blu Box for single stream recycling curbside pickup. Residents who sign up pay $7 per household per month and are on a two-week pickup schedule.
In single stream recycling, all recyclables are put in the same container and are separated at a materials recovery facility.
Columbus has used the service for a couple of years and received a higher participation rate, she said.
A key for small communities could be encouraging high participation and perhaps teaming up for regional recycling, moving beyond thoughts of curbside and working toward successful attended drop-off sites.
“One of the best ways to have a more successful program is to recognize that recyclables have value and stop looking at it as waste disposal,” Rose said. “Some statistics I thought were very interesting for the southeast region estimated that Georgia sends $100 million annually to the landfill, but has $300 million of recyclables, according to Environmental Protection Agency Region IV. South Carolina in 2006 had $69 million in tax revenue from recycling alone.”
Contact Lena Mitchell at (662) 287-9822 or lena.mitchell@djournal.com.

Lena Mitchell/NEMS Daily Journal