Recycling center sustained by community support

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Renaissance Recycling, LaRue County’s recycling center, is part 9 of a series providing an in-depth look at LaRue County

By Candis Carpenter

When recycling comes to mind, people often think about a neat and clean environment filled with organized storage containers for collection. However, that’s not always the case.
Often overlooked is the not-so-clean side of things such as sorting, organizing, banding and shipping the products after processing.
In 2011, LaRue County’s recycling center, better known as Renaissance Recycling, collected more than 500 tons of recyclable material and distributed it to select facilities across the state.
Working off a small employee base, and labor from the LaRue County Detention Center inmates, the center manages fairly well in their small area that was once home to the Hodgenville Water Treatment Plant in the 1960s.
The vision for the center came to light when current LaRue County Solid Waste Coordinator Jill Gray attended a solid waste meeting in 2004.
“I came back really excited and pumped,” said Gray, who had a dream of moving the recycling program out of the LaRue County Maintenance Barn and away from contracted haulers.
The meeting included information on how to obtain donated equipment in order to operate a fully functional recycling center.
“I was so excited,” said Gray, “I immediately went to (LaRue County Judge/Executive Tommy Turner).”
Turner advised Gray to move forward with getting the equipment and the search began to find a suitable building.
At that time, former Hodgenville Mayor Roger Truitt entered the picture and offered a city building for use. The old water plant, which had been vacant for several years, needed some care and cleanup, but was gladly accepted. In July 2005, work began to prep the building.
“We had to go through some procedures to insure it was suitable … and had to change some things, but for the most part it checked out just fine,” said Gray.
In January 2006 the recycling center held their grand opening celebration.
Since the relocation Gray has noted an increase in recycling by LaRue residents.
“We went from 52 tons the first year, to over 500 tons now,” said Gray.
It has been highly publicized that the benefits of recycling include less pollution and a better environment, but what people may not know is that it is a cost saver.
“The more we recycle the less amount of money your going to spend on your trash services,” said Gray.
“The more times that trash companies have to come to your house and the more waste they have to pick up the rates would eventually get higher,” she explained.
According to Gray, the cost for putting debris in the landfill is $30 per ton.
“Put it like this,” said Gray, “take 500 tons and multiply that by $30. That would be the charge for going to a landfill … that’s about how much money was saved by recycling this past year alone.”
Gray explained that even though a lot can be recycled out of the center, there are some limitations.
“We have to recycle by volume,” said Gray. “Some things we would never get enough of to create a load, so we just can’t take it.”
Plastics are not always accepted.
“Even though all plastic is recyclable, we can’t accept all kinds here … we just don’t have enough room to store it all.”
Plastics with the resin codes one through seven are gladly accepted. Resin codes are located in what looks a triangle connected by three arrows, explained Gray.
Other items commonly accepted include non-waxed cardboard, electronics (excluding non-working televisions, newspaper, copy paper books, tin cans, ink cartridges and glassware. No foam is accepted, other than Styrofoam.
Items not accepted include plastic wrappers, such as bread, hotdog or toilet paper wrappings, vinyl siding, plastics with resin codes other than one through seven and plastic without resin codes.
“There are some things that we can take, but only on special circumstances,” said Gray. “For example, if it is something that we typically don’t take, like vinyl siding, and someone has a whole semi load of it to get rid of, we may be able to do that … they would just have to call and see.”
Gray hopes to one day be able to offer the ability to recycle more items.
“We need more space to do that,” said Gray. “I would like for one day to see it at that point.”
The recycling center offers curbside service during regular business hours, which run 9 a.m.- 3:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and 24-hour drop off access through windows at the front of the building.
“If it doesn’t fit in a window, you cannot leave it without someone being there,” said Gray. “So for bulky items be sure to call ahead.”
For more information about recycling, or for special circumstances, call Gray at 270-234-6619.