American Recycling Day observed in the county
Published: November 22, 2012
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While people across the nation recognized recycling efforts during America Recycles Day, on November 15, Schuylkill County residents have also embraced the terms "reduce, reuse, recycle."
According to the America Recycles Day website - americarecyclesday.org - it's an initiative of Keep America Beautiful and is the only nationally recognized day and community-driven national awareness event dedicated to promoting and celebrating recycling in the nation.
Since its inception in 1997, communities across the country have participated in America Recycles Day Nov. 15 to promote environmental citizenship, educate and encourage action.
"People take recycling very seriously here in Schuylkill County," said Patrick M. "Porcupine Pat" McKinney, environmental education coordinator for the Schuylkill Conservation District.
McKinney said that while it was an inconvenience 25 years ago, today recycling to county residents is like "mom and apple pie."
He said he is "pleased to have a lot of people here in Schuylkill County (who) do make the effort to recycle."
Lee Raring, county solid waste and recycling coordinator, said that while there is no formal celebration of America Recycles Day in the county, there will be normal recycling pickup with three workers making pickups at the county recycling sites.
He also said that recycling efforts in the county continue to increase yearly.
"For our fall cleanup, we just recycled 51 tons of tires, 53 tons of electronics and an additional 30 tons of scrap metal," he said.
Raring said that while it unfortunately had to go to a landfill, 15 tons of bulky items, such as furniture, was also collected during the Schuylkill County's 2012 fall cleanup and recycling event in September.
"We were successful with our two-week fall clean up," he said. "We had quite a bit of turnout this year as compared to years past."
Giving numbers for the 23 recycling sites in the county, Raring said the county collected 625 tons of glass last year, 590 in the year prior and last year collected 680 tons of cardboard, 1,450 tons of mixed residential paper and 140 tons of cans.
"They were all increases with the exception of paper," Raring said. "We're seeing a downward trend with paper. With things being online now, we're seeing less and less paper being recycled."
All of the cardboard, paper and cans are taken to Weiner's Iron & Metals, Pottsville. Items can also be taken to Sorin's Recycling, Shenandoah, a division of Weiner's.
Raring said there were 383 tons of plastics recycled last year, an increase of 20 tons, which are taken to Cougle's Recycling Inc., Hamburg.
"We are still getting it ... even though we had to close four sites within the last four months," Raring said.
Out of the 23 recycling sites in the county, the largest is in Ashland, followed by Hegins, Ringtown and Pine Grove Township.
While workers get to all sites three times a week, sometimes it's not enough and workers could probably go to Ashland daily if they had the time, Raring said.
"I believe that is because of Mount Carmel and Northumberland County don't have recycling," he added. "Although we're supposed to be for Schuylkill County, we have been able to absorb their materials. We don't mind, as long as we can get it without much of a problem or much of an overflow. It's worth it for us to get it."
Raring said that while people are taking their recycling to the centers, he believes curbside recycling is the way of the future, which is what Kreitzer Sanitation is doing - and it doesn't have to be sorted when put into their bins.
Along with county residents recycling, McKinney said that area schools are also embracing the effort.
According to Steven K. Behr, elementary principal of Tamaqua Area School District, the district contracts with a company from Hazleton that provides bins and everything in the building is recycled.
Bins are placed around the school for bottles and cans.
Behr said electronics used to be recycled, but now they're recycled in a way that they generate sales through the components.
In addition to recycling locations throughout the school, at the beginning of each school year students are taught about recycling though science classes.
"I think it's more a part of their everyday lives now," Behr said. "They see it at home and they see it here and I think that they embrace it."
For more information about recycling in Schuylkill County, visit www.co.schuylkill.pa.us/Offices/Recycles.