Last year, Cooperative Workshops Inc. processed an average of 130,000 pounds of recyclable material a month, much of it coming from the city’s drop-off containers at Thompson Hill Shopping Center. Those numbers are likely to increase now that the city has opened an east-side satellite recycling site at Smith-Cotton Junior High School.
“We had always planned to put a site on the east side of town. (The Sedalia City) Council wants to expand recycling and the citizens have shown they also want the program to grow,” said public works director Bill Beck. “We started with Thompson Hills because it was a destination we thought people would be more likely to bring their recycling if they’re already driving west to do their shopping.”
The challenge, Beck said, was finding a similar destination site on the east side of town. The Woods Supermarket parking lot, while “certainly a destination where people go often” was too small, he said.
“They have a very busy parking lot and we did want to work with them as best we could, but it just wasn’t a good fit for what we needed,” he said. “So then we started looking at other areas.”
Smith-Cotton Junior High School Assistant Principal Jason Curry said school administration had been toying with the idea of having a single recycling container at the school already when the city approached the district about setting up a satellite location.
“We were looking at our own recycling needs, just getting our own paper-recycling container out here,” he said. “So when the city starting looking for a spot on the east side of town, we knew it could be a great opportunity for us.”
Curry noted that with the school’s transition from high school to junior high, its parking lots would not be as needed and concerns the Board of Education and school officials had — including whether there would be an increase in traffic or if the containers wouldn’t be emptied regularly and overflow — were minimal.
“We talked to Bill about what happens at Thompson Hills and decided in the end the positives outweighed the small concerns we might have had,” Curry said.
“And now we have a recycling container right here, it’s convenient,” he added with a laugh.
Convenience is key, Beck noted.
“If something is convenient, people will use it,” he said. “Which is why the Thompson Hills location worked out so well, I think. Smith-Cotton may not be a typical destination site, unless someone has kids at the school, but it is an east-side location and I think people will be glad there’s something available without having to drive across town.”
Beck said the public works department has a second swap-loader truck budgeted for next year to help tackle the increased recycling containers, hoping it will eliminate any “bottle-neck scenarios” crews may having getting to both recycling locations. At Cooperative Workshop, employees are already gearing up for the increase in production, said Center for Human Services Director of Employment Services Mickey Paul.
“Right now we have six full-time workers, but we’re more than happy to add an entire second shift if we need to,” he said. “Our focus (at the CHS) is to find employment for individuals with developmental disabilities and this program has been great for that. We have a lot of people waiting in the wings and ready to get to work.”
Both Beck and Paul said they hoped to see new customers take advantage of the east-side location credited the partnership between the Workshop and the city for the recycling program’s success.
“We’ve had a tremendous partnership with the city, working together for the betterment of the community,” Paul said. “And we’re ready to go with the new location, bring on the recycling.”