To kick off the New Year, the West Columbia Public Works and Sanitation departments increased the recycling effort, along with reminding residents to recycle smart.
An extra recycle container pick-up day was added in the first week of the year to sanitation routes to help clear the extra volume from Christmas packaging.
The city also collected discarded Christmas trees. In the past those trees were passed on to the S.C. Department of Natural Resources to be submerged in local lakes for fish habitat. But this year the recycled trees will have a more local impact.
“We took the trees to the landfill for grinding,” said Jamie Hook, the City of West Columbia’s Public Works Director. He said the mulch from the trees will be used to enhance the efforts of the West Columbia Beautification Foundation.
“We’ll distribute the mulch in the city’s parks and use it at the street-scaping projects that the West Columbia Beautification Foundation oversees,” said Hook, who was named Partner-of-the-Year for Keep the Midlands Beautiful in November of 2018.
In addition to grinding trees for re-use, Hook said he is promoting “smart” recycling in 2020.
“We want to reduce the amount of contaminants in recycling,” said Hook. He said recycling should include flattened cardboard, discarded mail, including newspapers and magazines, and aluminum and steel cans, but cans should not be crushed.
Other items ideal for recycling include glass, milk and orange juice cartons, plastic containers and empty water bottles, without the tops. Styrofoam or plastic grocery bags should not be placed in the city’s recycle bins. Hook said you can return plastic bags to the grocery store for recycling.
The Sonoco company’s Materials Recovery Facility in Columbia takes the city’s recyclibles.
Hook also said the city’s recycling program has been successful. About three years ago West Columbia incorporated 95-gallon recycle bins. Hook said the amount of residential recycling has increased from about 45 tons a month to the current volume of 75 tons a month. He also said recycling is important.
“When an item is recycled, it keeps it out of the landfill,” said Hook. “And it’s reused.”
Amy Merle, a Lexington Two Schools art teacher, oversees the recycling effort at Northside Middle School in West Columbia. She agrees with Hook about the importance of recycling.
“We encourage our students to recycle because it is good for the environment,” said Merle. “We all go out on a weekly basis and transfer the recyclable items we’ve collected during the week to the container on the school grounds so it can be picked up and taken to the recycling center.
Merle also said she teaches the students to practice “smart” recycling in order to improve the process so that it becomes for popular.