HAZARD — Roughly 34 percent of all waste in the U.S. was recycled in 2010, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, which leaves a lot of room for improvement. Here in Hazard and Perry County there are several ways to dispose of garbage, from curbside pickup of trash to electronics recycling to a complete recycling center that will take plastic, paper and cardboard.
The recycling center in Hazard is open to anyone who has items that they wish to recycle, though at present the center is being underutilized or used incorrectly, said City Manager Carlos Combs.
There are actually several benefits to recycling. According to the Energy Information Administration, for instance, producing one ton of paper from recycled materials can save up to 17 trees and reduce water usage by 50 percent when compared to making paper from virgin pulp.
Though the recycling center is part of Hazard city maintenance, it is open to anyone. There is no charge and items that are dropped off are sorted and recycled. However, officials have noticed a problem of people bringing items that cannot be recycled to the center.
Along with bringing the wrong kinds of items, not as many people use the free service as city officials would like. However, due to the current economy, Combs said they do not have the ability to promote the recycling center.
The center can accept paper and cardboard, but cannot take books or phone books. These items can still be dropped off at the construction or bulk waste area, but they cannot be recycled and would have to be sorted out by the recycling center staff.
Combs said that they can accept all kinds of cardboard, including coated cardboard like cereal boxes.
“We accept about everything except that (books), especially cardboard because we bail our own cardboard,” said Combs.
This cardboard is then taken to be processed, and the city receives payment for the recycled cardboard which helps cover the costs of running the center.
“Once we get an amount, then we take it to the recycling and we make a few dollars, not much, but we make some,” said Combs. “That helps us to make a little money and it keeps it out of the landfill.”
Along with paper and cardboard, the center also accepts plastic and aluminum. For all items being taken to the recycling center, they need to be clean and free of the food or drinks that may have been stored in them. This is especially true of plastics and aluminum.
The center only takes number one and two plastics. On most plastic items there is a triangle with a number in it, and this indicates the kind of plastic and the way it can be recycled. Number one and two plastics are the most common food container types and include milk jugs, soda bottles, butter tubs and peanut butter jars.
By recycling, the city can make money by taking items to the processing center in Richmond and help reduce the costs spent on landfill fees. Unfortunately, in many areas not enough people take advantage of recycling centers and they are starting to close across the state.
“I have talked to other cities and other cities have folded theirs up,” said Combs. “They started out making money and they ended closing.”
Combs said that while the Hazard recycling center is not at risk of closing, it could definitely be used more.
“I think more people should take advantage of this,” he said.
City maintenance man Billy Vanover said that they take loads of recycling about once every two to three weeks. That is how long it takes to fill the trailer that they use to make the delivery.
The various recycling cans are left out 24 hours a day so that people can bring items at their leisure. The recycling center has at this time stopped accepting glass of any kind.
The Hazard Recycling Center is located in Gorman Hollow at the city maintenance garage.
An additional option for Perry County residents is the new electronics recycling center at the county maintenance garage in Christopher. That center accepts nearly every kind of electronics items each weekday. There are also several private recycling centers in the county that can accept several types of metals.