Recycling picking up steam

Posted in: News
By Todd Brooks
Oct 17, 2013 - 8:59:31 AM

Participation in the South Central Oklahoma Environmental Authority (SCOEA) recycling program is growing steadily, according to Waste Connections officials.
Brad Gordon, Waste Connections’ state municipal manager, says the program has been growing in the three communities of Marlow, Duncan, and Comanche.
“The first month in May we had 187,000 pounds recycled,” Gordon said.  “We had a drop-off the next month probably because in May it was new and people were aware of it. We still had 157,000 pounds in June and it increased to 198,000 pounds in July and 216,000 pounds in August. So, the past two months we have been collecting more than the first month.”
“People involved in rewards in the program compared to those that don’t is 3-to-1,” Gordon said.
Gordon said the total participants are saving using the rewards program is $4,600 per month.
“Definitely participation is going up, up, up,” Gordon said. “Every time we pick up, 27 pounds from every household is diverted from a landfill.”
The impact on landfill won’t be immediately seen, according to Gordon.
“You will see it in five to 10 years,” Gordon said. “A landfill is expensive to keep, and this will help keep the cost down.”
Brad Hegwer, district manager of the Waste Connections in Duncan, says there have been problems, but they try to resolve them as quickly as possible.
“If we miss someone and they call, we will go back and pick it up,” Hegwer said. “If we are missing several pick-ups in a row and people call, we go over the list to make sure they are putting the right things in the bin. If there are things like plastic bags in it, it won’t be picked up.”
There has also been an issue with handicap pickup where workers will come up to the house to get the bin.
“When we get hardship information from a doctor, we will pick it up,” Hegwer said. “We have to have a signed document from their doctor. It is part of the procedure. We just can’t just do a handicap pickup because a customer tells us they need it.”
There has also been criticism from some about the rewards program and the rewards being offered are not worth the effort.
“Actually, we pay out quite a bit,” Hegwer said. “We pay out thousands in rewards every month.”
It was announced last Monday by Keep Oklahoma Beautiful – a statewide non-profit organization – SCOEA is one of seven finalists for a 2013 Environmental Excellence Award in the Government Programs category.
Other nominees include: Chickasaw Nation, City of Vinita, Kaw National Environmental Dept., Keep Delaware Nation Beautiful, OK Conservation Commission, and Owasso Strong Neighborhood Initiative – Owasso CARES.
The winner will be announced at the organization’s annual environmental excellence banquet in Oklahoma City on Nov. 19.