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County’s recycling efforts pay off

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Spring cleanup is Friday and Saturday

By Ron Benningfield

Last year, LaRue County’s Renaissance Recycling center, on East Water Street in Hodgenville, collected 1.2 million pounds of cardboard, plastic, paper, glass and other items for reuse that otherwise would have wound up in a landfill.

“I am amazed how supportive the people have been,” said Jill Gray, the county’s solid waste coordinator who saw the center’s yearly collections grow from 150 tons its first year (2006) to 2009’s whopping 590 tons.

Tommy Turner, LaRue County judge-executive, also was impressed.

“That’s a lot for our community,” he said. ”It’s all because of one thing – the people of LaRue County care.”

And the efforts continue. At the county clean-up March 26-27, every effort will be expended to recycle items brought in by city and county residents.

Turner said every pound saved from the landfill is reflected in a savings on the county’s monthly garbage service.

“Even though we are more rural than some of our surrounding counties, meaning garbage trucks must in some cases drive several miles just to make one or two stops, driving the cost up considerably, our rates are cheaper than many of surrounding counties partly because of our recycling effort.”

He explained that disposal costs at the landfill are a fairly large component of the monthly charge.

“The more we reduce the stream of waste, the better it reflects on the cost of our solid waste services,” Turner said. “Recycling also teaches our children that the environment we live in is important.”

Gray spends a lot of time with those students, teaching them about recycling and encouraging them to do it not only at school but also at home.

“The schools are doing a really good job with plastic milk bottles, plus cardboard, aluminum and tin cans, office paper and newspaper,” Gray said. 

Volunteers and LaRue County Jail inmates man the center 8:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Dropoff windows are available 24/7.

The center’s personnel compress cardboard into two sizes of bales, 900 and 1,300 pounds. They also bale newspapers. They load the bales onto a box trailer where a semi hauls them to Louisville. The recycling company there pays Renaissance for the material brought in.

“Prices fluctuate with the economy from a low of “0” paid to us to currently $130 a ton for cardboard,” said Gray. The center takes aluminum cans and glass to The Scrapyard in Cave City.

Unlike some centers, Renaissance accepts many types of plastic. Gray said the number (resin code) inside the three-arrow triangle recycle emblem on each plastic container indicates what type of plastic was used in making the container.

“Some centers will take only codes One (soda bottles and other clear containers) and Two (milk, juice, shampoo and other containers),” Gray said. “We take Codes One through Seven.”

“We also take those plastic peanuts used in packaging because we have someone who will reuse them,” she said. “We’re experimenting with a process so that we can also accept small amounts of Styrofoam.”

The center’s collection of materials has grown each year. In 2007, Renaissance collected 219 tons; in 2008, 370 tons.

The judge is optimistic about future collections of Renaissance Recycling, which is a cooperative effort among the City Of Hodgenville, LaRue Fiscal Court and Main Street Renaissance.

“Maybe next year we’ll hit close to 750 tons,” he said. “When we reach 1,000 tons or two million pounds recycled, that will truly be a milestone for our community.”

LaRue County’s spring clean-up is noon-4 p.m. March 26 and 8 a.m.-noon March 27 at the county maintenance barn across from the high school. For more information, call Solid Waste Coordinator Jill Gray at 358-9903.