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Fri, Feb. 21

People aren't using recycling programs enough to make them cost effective

Recycling is becoming more popular in Prescott Valley, but the area has a long way to go to before the public is educated to make the best use of the earth's resources.

Prescott Valley has tried different recycling programs since 1990, said interim Town Manager Larry Tarkowski. The Town asked garbage companies to cooperate in a commingled curbside recycling program, called "blue bagging."

"After about 12 months, they all begged out," Tarkowski said, because customers weren't using the service enough and it wasn't cost effective.

Waste Management again tried curbside recycling, but saw only 50 percent of its customers pay the extra couple of dollars per month to participate, Tarkowski said, and dropped the service six months later as customers dropped out of the program.

"(Now) we're letting market forces drive recycling," Tarkowski said. "It's up to the people. They have to be willing to pay the extra fees."

Many residents currently make use of Waste Management's transfer station on Lake Valley Road behind the Better Bilt aluminum plant. Don Jost, who has attended to the station since it opened about three years ago, said he sees nearly 60 people each Wednesday and Saturday.

"We're really busy right after the holidays," Jost said.

The station accepts No. 1 & 2 plastics, junk paper, cardboard of all types, tin cans and aluminum, all of which WM sends to Sedona Recycle a couple of times each month. The Lions Clubs provide bins for newspapers and magazines at the site, and at other sites around Prescott Valley. In the past, the Lions have provided a bin for phone books, as well, but the Tribune did not discover a current site before press time.

PV resident Susan Rupe said she has recycled for years, and has cut her family's garbage output from using a large to a small container for weekly pick-up.

"I'm just loving having this," Rupe said as she unloaded at the transfer station last Wednesday. "I don't mind having to bring it myself."

Rupe even picks up pizza boxes to recycle from a local school.

"I do it for our kids. It's unfortunate that more people don't do it. Why litter our beautiful state with garbage?" she said.

Rupe also mentioned the efforts of citizens to clean up forests and other recreation areas. For example, Prescott Off Road Trails Association members pick up litter along trails, she said. Many clubs, organizations and individuals have "adopted" a section of highway to keep clean, and often recycle items they find, as well.

Prescott Country Club resident Dixie Weaver drives up to recycle at the transfer station.

"I hardly have one garbage bag a week," she said.

Lizabeth Johnson, another PV resident who recycles regularly at the transfer station, said, "This is so important to our world. I think it should be mandatory. My husband has been around the world four-and-a-half times and they have better recycling overseas than in the US."

Johnson said looking for a place to recycle was one of the first things she did when her family moved to Prescott Valley from Kansas five years ago. Her former state even had facilities to recycle styrofoam, she said.

"It's not just our generation, it's our children's children we should be recycling for," Johnson said. "I tell my nieces to think about how much garbage a family of five generates each week, then multiply that by six billion."

Waste Management did not respond to repeated requests for the recyclable tonnage they collect by the Tribune's deadline.

Patriot Disposal just began a curbside recycling pick-up in April, and owner Jay Eby said the program is already a success. Customers pay an extra four dollars per month for the container, and the company has averaged about three tons of recyclables per week, which they take to Kuhles Services in Humboldt and Norton Environmental in Flagstaff. Patriot will also take phone books, in addition to all other paper and cardboard, and the same materials that WM's transfer station accepts.

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