CLARK COUNTY — This week, Clark County is placing the spotlight on ways residents can make environmentally-sustainable choices and reduce the amount of waste sent to the landfill.
Friday is America Recycles Day, and in honor of the nationally-recognized holiday, the Clark County Recycling District is celebrating the recycling efforts occurring within the community. A presentation Wednesday at CCRD's main office in Charlestown featured speeches from local and state officials and recycling representatives to raise awareness of opportunities for recycling in Clark County.
Clark County offers curbside recycling in Jeffersonville, Clarksville and Sellersburg, along with a number of drop-off locations, including its main office and four 24-hour drop-off sites. CCRD collected 2,248 tons of recycling in 2018, which prevents an average of 187 tons a month from going to the landfill.
CCRD Director Debby McGrath said the holiday is a way to give residents an extra push and extra reminder to recycle. The district hopes to raise awareness of other opportunities offered for county residents, including household hazardous waste disposal.
"It's an easy way to take care of your corner of the planet," she said.
At Wednesday's presentation, State Sen. Ron Grooms, R-Jeffersonville, delivered a proclamation recognizing Nov. 15, 2019 as America Recycles Day in Clark County to promote recycling as an "environmentally-efficient and economically-smart habit" and educate the community about recycling. He praised the recycling district's work in collecting recycling and diverting waste from landfills.
"This is value, folks, when you have a community that can do what you do, what we do in Clark County, for $34 a year for residents to provide recycling services and for this facility…what a value," Grooms said. "That is just a true value."
Jack Coffman, Clark County Commissioner and CCRD Board President, discussed the economic effects of recycling in the county in terms of both prospective businesses and residents.
"We have companies that want to locate here, and one of the things they ask about is if we have a recycling program," he said. "Also, I’m a real estate agent, and lots of times we have residents looking to move to Clark County or move to Southern Indiana, and that’s one of the specific reasons — they like that we have a recycling program."
Deanna Garner, recycling market development program manager for the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM), spoke of the department's grant opportunities and the state's efforts to increase recycling, including a Community Recycling Grant intended to create cost-effective programs for recycling, waste reduction and education in communities and organizations. Indiana's recycling rate went from 16.8 percent in 2017 to 20 percent in 2018, she said.
"The reported data of recyclables from our recycling activity report increased by almost 350,000 tons from the previous year, so that's great news," she said. "By providing grant opportunities and through partnerships, we hope to help Indiana increase that number and reach as much as 50 percent recycling."
Kim Martinez, sustainability manager at WestRock Recycling, was another of the speakers at Wednesday's event. The recycling collected by CCRD is processed by the Louisville sorting facility. She said recycling contamination is between 5 percent and 8 percent at the facility, but nationally, facilities often report 20 percent to 25 percent contamination.
"I do think Southern Indiana and Louisville are doing a really great job working with our haulers, our educators and just everybody as a whole within the government helping to get the message out there about what's acceptable and what's not acceptable," she said.
McGrath said she wants residents to know that it is easy to recycle in Clark County,
"If they need assistance setting up recycling in their home, we can give them some tips," she said. "Once you set up the organization inside your house and you start the process, it works like clockwork after that. And that's one of the easiest ways to make your neighborhood and your home healthier, and of course, that carries over into the health of the planet."
New Albany and Georgetown offer curbside recycling, but the service is not available in unincorporated areas of Floyd County. The Floyd County Solid Waste District has five manned drop-off sites Tuesday through Saturday at locations in New Albany, Galena, Floyds Knobs and Georgetown, but unlike Clark County, it does not have 24-hour drop-off sites.
Mary Lou Byerley, operations manager for the Solid Waste District, said it is not difficult to get started with recycling at home. Recycling is mostly single stream, and besides aluminum cans and corrugated cardboard, residents can put most recyclable items in the same container. The district also asks residents to separate plastic bags, which are donated to a local food pantry.
“By getting started at home, you can start just small by recycling newspapers or papers and plastic bottles — that's a big thing," she said. "You can start small and work your way up where you know what's recyclable and what’s not."