The pictures below were taken many years ago, back when providing end-users with clean, uncontaminated, valuable, feedstock was the top priority. Hopefully these pictures will stir your imagination to make your recycling program safe for workers, transparent to the public, and one that provides end-users with high quality feedstock for which you get paid.
The Bella Vista, Arkansas Drop Off Center, begun by AARP volunteers, almost 40 years ago, now pays a part time staff of five. The staff educates the public constantly, so contamination is low and there is always a market for their recyclables. They only take items for which they actually have a secure, domestic, market.
Because they run a frugal operation, they had an adequate ne$t egg, when cardboard prices tanked to $40/ton. That nest egg saw them through the hard times. In the fall of 2021, with cardboard around $200/ton the Bella Vista Recycling Foundation was considering once again giving money back to the community. It has donated thousands of dollars in the past during the years when markets were good. Visit their website at www.BellaVistaRecycling.org
This project began in 1988 around Louise’s kitchen table with an alderman, an architect, and a PTA president. The group expanded, resulting in a community-initiated Reuse/Repair/Recycle/Respect program that boasted over 100 active volunteers.
Lessons were taught in all elementary classrooms EVERY month for several years. Volunteers helped maintain the center as well as create many of the unique features found in it.
The pictures below were taken when Louise was coordinator for Recycle Signal. The citizen/town partnership was one of the keys to success. That partnership made transparency easier, and gave citizens more knowledge about recycling realities and myths.
Former Parks Director, Tom Cogan, totally got the concepts Louise relayed about drop-offs being a place of community pride and caring. “If we’re asking people to care enough to haul stuff to us, shouldn’t the drop off center reflect caring?” she asked. Tom took Louise’s advice about separating cars from pedestrians, making this a family friendly center with expansive sidewalks, away from cars. Post consumer plastic lumber was used to build the small amphitheater. The drop-off sets at the top of a slope, that once caused flooding on the business below. To the delight of the business, down hill, that situation was rectified with rain and butterfly gardens.
These pictures were taken shortly after the center opened, in maybe, 2007? Tom Cogan has since retired, so who knows what kind of shape the center is in today. You must have people who care in charge.
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