Recycle your trash; it’s the right thing to do

By Adam Jerome, I-O Reporter
   Over the course of the last year certain community members decided they would try to bring viable recycling to Pondera County.  After a few meetings, these individuals created the Pondera County Recycling Coalition (PCRC).
   The first event sponsored by this non-profit group was the Whoop-Up Aluminum Drive.  For a first time event the drive was a success.  PCRC collected 600 pounds of aluminum and got the notion of recycling back in the minds of Pondera County citizens.
   Since that first event PCRC has been working on taking the next step in bringing a permanent recycling structure to the area.
   Last Tuesday that next step was taken.  PCRC sponsored a recycling roundtable for area residents interested in recycling as either a business or as a hobby.  The turnout was phenomenal.  Over 25 people showed up to ask questions and pool their ideas on recycling.
   Pryor to the roundtable the coalition met and decided to hold another aluminum drive during the Conrad Centennial.  There will be more on the aluminum drive in The Independent-Observer as the event nears.
   After introductions by Mayor John Shevlin, Dusti Johnson from the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) gave a presentation on the recycling market and gave examples of other likeminded communities who have achieved the PCRC’s end goal of making recycling a permanent fixture in Pondera County.
   In the first part of her presentation, Johnson gave some interesting facts about the recycling market.  
   The recycling market like any other commodity is closely tied to the present economic condition.  Demand for recyclables tracks closely with the markets for new products.  As with most other commodities recycling has a cyclical price swing due to supply and demand.  Once demand from China dried up, the prices fell to their present state.
   On the home front, since spending has been scaled back due to the recession, recyclables were in less demand in the U.S. as well.
   As it stands now the market for most recyclables is flat.  For ferrous metals the demand is low, but the price is inching higher.  For aluminum there is a slow rise in demand, yet the price has remained flat.  Paper is seasonally up, and the price continues to be export led.  The market for plastic is sufficient and the price is rising.
   This market prognosis isn’t very encouraging, but Johnson gives a different reason for recycling.  Communities need to keep recycling local. Many large cities recycle because they have to.  Landfills are filling up at an alarming rate.  Recycling is a necessity in these large hubs.  There is only so much room to put trash.
   Here in Montana we have not yet reached this breaking point, but that is not to say we shouldn’t worry about it.  
   M&M recycling in Cut Bank has already saved three years on their landfill, which they take enormous pride in.
   In Eureka, they recycle 98 percent of the cardboard that is used in the town.  
   Johnson states, “It costs to through away garbage.  Recycling can cut back or stagnate garbage rates.”
   Here in Conrad for example, just a few months ago there was an uproar when the idea of our garbage rates going up was presented.  The reason for this was that the city of Conrad was being under assessed when it came to the amount of garbage going into the landfill.
   Last year Conrad disposed of 200 tons of garbage more than was being assessed.  And for this year the city is once again over the assessment each month.
   The answer to this problem is relatively simple.  Start recycling what you can.  Nationally, 54 percent of all aluminum is recycled.  You may ask yourself, “that is all fine and good, but where do we take our aluminum?”  Since the Whoop-Up Aluminum drive, many people have inquired what they should do with their cans now.  Well, there are quite a few different options here in Conrad that people may not know of.
   Behind the Meadowlark School sits a trailer where you can dispose of your aluminum cans, and the money raised goes to a great cause.  The aluminum helps fund new playground equipment.  The 4 Leaf Clovers 4-H club also takes aluminum cans.  The proceeds of those cans go to fund various community service projects and the Ronald McDonald house in Billings.  You can contact Ruby Bouma for pickup at 278-3447.
   If those two are not enough, Pat Becker will take your aluminum, vehicle batteries and metal appliances off your hands free of charge.  You can call him at 278-7741 if you have any questions.  
   Say that you want payment for your recyclables, well Conrad Salvage and Recycling will take your aluminum and tin cans, all metals, junk vehicles, vehicle batteries, and appliances without Freon at no charge to you, but may also pay for certain items.  
   Conrad Salvage and Recycling is located on the Old Shelby Road, behind the landfill, so instead of taking this stuff to the landfill for a fee, you can drive a few extra yards and possibly even get paid a little bit.  So give them a call and see what they have to offer, at 278-7909.  They are open most evenings and weekends.
   Another issue concerning the landfill is yard waste in the summer.  Instead of bagging your yard waste and throwing it in the dumpster, load it up and take it to the Roll-off sites.  They will take it free of charge and it will not take up valuable room in the landfill.  The Roll-off sites will also take your used motor oil.  For 10 gallons or less it is free of charge, for more a fee will be assessed.
   These are just a few viable options to help Pondera County save room in the landfill and stop a problem before it even exists.  Future generations will thank you.