Recycling program takes hold of Cleveland residents
by Rory Doyle
May 24, 2013 | 2688 views | 0 0 comments | 17 17 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Ray Bell (left) and Gemorrow Hughes of Cleveland Public Works discuss bales of plastic the city has collected since the new recycling program began in January.
Ray Bell (left) and Gemorrow Hughes of Cleveland Public Works discuss bales of plastic the city has collected since the new recycling program began in January.
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Cleveland's recycling program, which kicked off in January, continues to grow at an impressive rate.

"The amount of stuff people are dropping off is almost doubling on a weekly basis," said Public Works Director Ray Bell. "Plastic bottles, plastic bags and cardboard are steadily going up."

Many residents had been waiting for a recycling program in Cleveland for years, which is one reason Bell thinks the participation is high.

Public Works employees are making multiple trips throughout the day to empty the recycling bins north of the depot building downtown.

Material is brought back to the Public Works facility on Old Highway 61 behind Baxter, the second location where citizens can drop off their recyclables.

Current acceptable items include: plastic bags and plastic wrap, plastic bottles with a one or two on it, aluminum and steel cans, mixed paper and cardboard.

Not to be dropped off are glass, medical waste items, Styrofoam, aluminum foil and food soiled items.

"Our downtown bins are definitely the busiest but we're getting drop-offs here at the facility too," said Bell. "We just want to encourage people to keep participating, keep contributing."

Since the program's inception, over 53,000 pounds of cardboard have been gathered and sold to help fund the program.

Once enough of a particular material is collected, Brown Brothers Scrap Metal Inc. in Cleveland purchases the recyclables from the city and then sells them to recycling operations across the Mid-South.

Before the program, taxpayers were footing the bill for delivering the material to the landfill in Boyle.

"Right now we're still new so it's going to be a while before we offset the costs of labor," said Bell. "It takes about 5-6 years before a recycling program becomes established and the money increases.

"I'd like to see the program continue to grow and in the future we'll need to hire a couple employees who'll deal with city recycling only."

The platform is also receiving guidance from the Cleveland Recycling Coalition, which is made up of businesses, industry leaders and interested individuals helping to build the program.

One of the current goals is to purchase larger bins to decrease the number of trips workers are taking to the downtown bins. Bell said a decision would be made on this purchase around budget time in October.

"When we bought the little bins, we thought that it would take forever for people to get used to the idea, but we are picking up three times a day downtown and at public works once a day," said Brett Moorman, Cleveland director of community development, in a previous Bolivar Commercial story. "Larger bins would cut down a lot on cost because we will not have to service them but maybe once a week."

The bins downtown are available for use 24/7 and Public Works can be used between 7 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday through Friday.

"Things have been much busier than we expected," added Bell. "We just encourage people to keep participating. We're still trying to get the word out and educate the public about how important this is."

Bell and his crew will be providing information at a June 4 Mississippi Homemaker Volunteers meeting, and he welcomes other businesses and organizations to contact him to plan information sessions.

"Anyone that wants to set something up, please call 843-5365 — or even if people have any questions about the program," said Bell.

Detailed flyers can be picked up from Cleveland City Hall and Public Works.