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Huron schools ready to recycle

Posted: Saturday, Nov 2nd, 2013

Solid Waste Superintendent Dale Fortin meets with members of the Huron Middle School HUB Club to talk about the city’s recycling program. The schools are now beginning to join the effort. PHOTO BY ROGER LARSEN/PLAINSMAN

HURON — The city’s recycling program is gaining momentum with each week’s collection, and now it will grow considerably as Huron schools begin joining the endeavor.

Since the early days of community recycling this summer, Solid Waste Superintendent Dale Fortin has spent much of his time educating the public, and this week he met with HUB Club members at Huron Middle School.

The 70 fifth- through eighth-grade students will serve as partners with the city recycling effort. Each week they will empty blue recycling waste baskets in classrooms into blue and yellow wheeled containers and move them to a city collection point.

HUB stands for Help Understand and Befriend.

“These are kids that were picked by their teachers for how friendly they were, outgoing, how approachable they were to other students,” said Jeff Johnson, a middle school counselor. “They’re our peer helpers.”

Recycling in the school district will initially involve the middle school as well as Washington and Jefferson schools.

Eventually all of the schools will participate. Containers are also in place at the Huron Arena, primarily for waste paper from school offices.

As Fortin made his presentation to HUB Club members, it was clear that many of the students were already familiar with what can and cannot be recycled.

Glass, PVC plastic and Styrofoam are among the materials that are not recyclable.

Pizza delivery boxes need to go in the trash and not the recycling container because of grease absorbed into the cardboard.

But many other household products can be recycled in the commingled process — junk mail, newspapers, paperback books, phone books, plastic containers with the familiar chasing arrows triangle, cardboard, shredded paper and transparent bags.

“Commingled means everything goes into one container and they sort it at the other end” in Sioux Falls, Fortin said.

Plastic milk containers and soda and water containers are among the recyclables common in every household. But Fortin emphasizes that the lids should be removed so the containers are easily compacted. It’s difficult or impossible to crush them when the caps are still on.

“The last thing we want to do is send a truckload of air down to Sioux Falls,” he said. “We want to get as much recyclables in that truck as we can.”

Tin cans do not have to have their labels removed. However, they should be rinsed out.

Months into the recycling program, the city is beginning to see an impact on the waste stream heading to the Pierre landfill. Fourteen years after Huron began its yard waste collection program, the solid waste department now collects more yard waste tonnage than garbage, and the hope is that recycling will eat into it as well.

Fortin said a waste study conducted three years ago found that 57 percent of every household’s garbage is recyclable, and 25 percent of that is easily recyclable, meaning that materials like junk mail, newspapers, magazines, cans and plastic can effortlessly go into the blue and yellow container. Containers should not be placed at the collection point unless they are at least one-fourth to one-third full.

Initially, the city began charging all households $2.25 per month on their utility bill whether they were participating in recycling or not, in order to cover the fixed cost of dumping the containers.

“What we hope to see is the garbage rate either hold or go down because we have a reduction of waste going to a landfill,” Fortin said.

“The more people that get on board with this the less waste we see going out to Pierre,’ he said.

“Keep working at it,” Fortin said to the young students, “and I think we’ll see it grow just like we did on the grass collection.”

For the complete article see the 11-01-2013 issue.

Click here to purchase an electronic version of the 11-01-2013 paper.

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