Thursday, August 21, 2008

Churches, Non-Profits Hit By Reduction in Recycling

While recycling is going up in St. Louis County, it's going down at many churches and non-profit organizations. It's only common sense this would happen and was predicted and discussed before the law went into affect. Unfortunately, St. Louis County officials and the County Council ignored the pleas of these organizations.

Fewer and fewer people are bringing their recycling to the big green and yellow bins seen on the parking lots of schools and churches. (click on photos to enlarge)

Schools get money through those bins, and the company that oversees them has collected 25% less recycling compared to the same time period last year. That's nearly $9,500 less to schools, and more than seven tons of recycling going elsewhere.

Recycling at some schools is actually up due to campaigns they have done throughout the year. Some schools are down only $10 to $50 from last year, but some are down hundreds of dollars. St. Louis County's curbside recycling efforts have increased greatly this year.

The bins in the Parkway School District have collected about 35% less paper than this time last year. They got more than $18,000 from the program last year, but so far revenue is down more than 50% — a higher rate relative to the actual amount recycled because the program pays more money for more volume.

Washington Middle School in the Mehlville School District made just over $1,300 from the bin last year, and already science teacher Patricia Jones says recycling is down about 15% in their four bins. "I have noticed we have only begun to fill them partially since the county recycling has begun," she said.

The school uses the money for plants and flowers on the grounds, scientific calculators, and rewards and incentives for kids. Jones plans to distribute flyers to parents at the upcoming school open house, and remind them to keep bringing their paper to school.

Amy Schafer, a science teacher at Crestview Middle School in the Rockwood School District, said her school had been one of the top recyclers in the district but was shocked to see the money they get from the program dwindle to about $100 a month, when they used to get more than double that. "I know it's not a ton of money, but it's free money for doing the right thing," she said.

Prediction? People will recycle where it's most convenient - at the curb. It's only human nature. Organizations can expect their recycling efforts to continue to drop to a point where it only makes sense to discontinue the effort. The losers will be the churches, sports teams, schools, school projects - computers, science, field trips, uniforms, etc. The winners will be the recycling companies and St. Louis County - who will tout how successful the recycling program has been - with no mention of the losers.

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