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Report shows school recycling interest

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- A project by a University of Charleston graduate student offers suggestions and possibilities for implementing recycling programs at public schools in Kanawha County.

The project and accompanying report were presented to some members of the Kanawha County Solid Waste Authority and representatives of the state Department of Environmental Protection and Kanawha County Schools on Tuesday.

Hoeynes' work included researching the current status of recycling in area schools and possible solutions, taking into account varying demographic and geographic challenges. In addition, he assisted with the authority's new school recycling pilot program.

"Very few schools have a recycling program in place," he said, but of the schools with which he made contact, "every single one of them indicated they would support such a program."

Currently, only a handful of schools in the county recycle, like schools in South Charleston, where the city collects recyclable materials. A few other schools also conduct varying degrees of recycling.

"There is no mandate or law for the schools to recycle," Hoeynes said.

As a result, the authority has initiated a recycling pilot program with four Charleston schools -- Ruffner Elementary, Kanawha City Elementary, Horace Mann Middle and Capital High -- after those schools expressed interest in starting recycling programs.

The pilot program at the elementary and middle schools is more basic and focuses on paper. Ruffner Elementary also recycles plastic milk containers.

At Capital High School, the authority is taking a different route, due in part to the school's larger size. There, a team of teachers and administrators is working to oversee a core group of students and faculty who will be charged with implementing recycling school-wide.

In addition to the four pilot schools, the authority is also looking to add a fifth school to the partnership in a rural area. Once the authority selects a school willing to participate, the school could serve as a model for other rural schools in the county.

Hoeynes' report notes rural schools face different challenges for recycling than their counterparts in larger communities, particularly due to distance from recycling centers.

Therefore, Hoeynes suggested the authority and schools could look into the possibility of applying to participate in private programs, like PepsiCo's Dream Machine Recycle Rally program. That program focuses on plastic bottles and aluminum cans.

Hoeynes said one Kanawha County school, Ruthlawn Elementary, participated in the Recycle Rally program in the past, but determined the program too time-consuming and cumbersome to continue. However, Hoeynes said Pepsi has since changed the method for participating in the program.

"They were very eager to have as many schools as possible," he said of his conversations with program representatives.

Kanawha County Schools Executive Director of Maintenance Terry Hollandsworth, who was at the presentation, said he was interested in exploring options for recycling at all of the county's schools. He said it is cheaper for the school system to pay to have materials recycled than to pay to take that waste to the landfill.

Due to the size of the county and the number of waste carriers, each school could have a different solution for recycling.

"Each school's going to be unique," said James Young, Solid Waste Authority director.

For example, West Virginia Recycling Services on Slack Street hauls recycling from the authority's pilot program schools in Charleston. In South Charleston, city workers collect school recycling.

Young said on average, around 40 percent of waste produced by a school is recyclable paper.

As recycling programs at other schools come online, Young said an ideal solution would be for municipalities to collect recyclables from schools within their boundaries.

"Anytime we can get a city to take over, it's a lot easier for everyone," he said.

Young said the authority would continue to examine new relationships with schools and municipalities over the next few months. The topic could come up at the authority's next City/Town Recycling Committee meeting in January or the authority's board meeting next month.

The authority did not have its scheduled board meeting Tuesday due to lack of quorum.

Contact writer Matt Murphy at Matt.Murphy@dailymailwv.com or 304-348-4817. Follow him on Twitter @DMLocalGov and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/DailyMailLocalGov.


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