Douglas County pilot rural recycling program proving popular
Freida Martin is one Vinland area resident thankful for the Douglas County recycling pilot program, which has made it possible to practice what she preaches.
She’s a member of the Kansas State Extension Vinland Family and Community Education unit, which has encouraged recycling, but recently has had a difficult time keeping her waste out of landfills.
“We used to take our recycling to Wal-Mart in Lawrence, but since they closed their recycling center we didn’t have a place to recycle,” Martin said.
That changed in September when Douglas County placed recycling bins at the Vinland County Fairgrounds, 711 East 1750 Road, and three other sites to serve rural county residents with no or few recycling options. The bins were placed there and at the Wakarusa Valley School, 1104 East 1000 Road, Stull United Methodist Church and Prairie Moon Waldorf School, 1853 East 1600 Road, as part of a four-month pilot program to gauge the response of rural county residents.
Martin said it seemed Vinland area residents were making good use of the program.
“When we took our recycling Sunday, one dumpster was full and another was half full,” she said. “I’d like to see it continue. I think more people would use it if they knew about it.”
Eileen Horn, sustainability coordinator for the city of Lawrence and Douglas County, said the County Commission agreed to fund a four-month pilot program for the last quarter of the year. Because it is still a pilot program, the county hasn’t sought a lot of publicity for the recycling effort.
Nonetheless, the program has proved a success with 8.6 tons of materials delivered to the four sites for recycling since September, Horn said. The busiest site has been the Wakarusa Valley Elementary School location, which is in a more densely populated area, she said.
“We couldn’t be more thrilled with how people have responded,” she said. “I’ve had more positive feedback from emails and phone calls about this than any program I’ve been associated with.”
Also pleased with the results to date is Honey Creek Disposal Inc., the private recycling contractor who provides and services the containers, Horn said. The tops of the bins are sealed to prevent people from discarding inappropriate materials such as tires and furniture, but that has not been a problem, she said.
“Honey Creek has been very pleased with the activity,” Horn said. “They say the stream of material recycled has been very clean.”
The county will assess the program near the start of the year to determine whether more sites are needed or the recycling sites are in the right locations, Horn said.