News From Terre Haute, Indiana

July 7, 2014

Petitioners push for recycling at fair

State Fair, Vermillion County already have recycling programs, but not Vigo

Howard Greninger
The Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — A Vigo County environmental activist hopes to convince the Vigo County Fair Board to start recycling, especially during the county fair, and has started an online petition.

Jane Santucci started the online petition as a way to show the fair board that Terre Haute and the greater Vigo County community support recycling, including at the fair, which began its 2014 run on Sunday.

The online petition can be found here, as well as on Facebook and Twitter.

Paper copies of the petition can also be found at the fairgrounds in the floriculture building near the master gardens display.

Santucci said a conversation on recycling at the fair started in some groups she is a part of two years ago. Santucci this year supplied information from the Indiana Recycling Coalition on how to implement recycling and offered some price quotes on recycling containers from Gurman Container. That information was sent in an email to the fair association president.

“I never heard back on anything, but did not push it,” Santucci said. “But the fair is here again and another year has gone by, so I figured something has to be done, so, well, what about a petition,” she said.

Santucci is a member of environmental groups such as TREES Inc., Wabash Valley Master Gardeners, Wabash Valley Herb Society and Keep Terre Haute Beautiful, among others.

Jennifer Cook, president of Wabash Valley Fair Association, said instead of petitions, people, such as Santucci, can directly “contact me and sit down and have a conversation of what we can do. There is a lot involved, and we have a lot of trash here and it is really cumbersome to collect the trash.

“I am certainly not anti-recycling,” Cook said. “We have to look at the staffing costs, the collection and all the costs attached to it. I am certainly open to having a sit-down conversation. I don’t want to deal with that through an email or phone call. I want a meeting where we sit down and talk about it,” Cook said.

Purdue Extension educator Jim Luzar, who is a new board member of the fair association, said he helped implement a recycling program at the Montgomery County fairgrounds in 2008.

“There is recycling now at the race track” in Vigo County, Luzar said. “It takes a lot of education. Some items like cardboard cannot be recycled if it has a lot of grease and food on it and there is no [recycling] market on Styrofoam.

“It will take education with vendors, who are in it for a profit. A lot of compostable food packagings (such as cups) are expensive. It can be done with a cooperative effort of the fair board, working with vendors and patrons. It will be a group effort,” Luzar said.

Vermillion County already has a recycling program in place, and the Indiana State Fair implemented a recycling program last year. The state fair partnered with the Indiana Recycling Coalition, Keep America Beautiful, Alcoa Foundation and Cummins on a recycling program. While cardboard had been recycled, there had not been a recycling program for plastic bottles and aluminum cans in 2012 at the state fair.

In 2013, 2.31 tons of plastic bottles and aluminum cans were recycled at the state fair, according to the Indiana Recycling Coalition, along with 16.91 tons of cardboard, which was a 42 percent increase over 2012.

The effort reduced nearly 896 tons of trash from being hauled to a landfill, a decrease of 3.5 percent over 2012, according to the Indiana Recycling Coalition.

Vermillion County collected about 560 plastic bags, each holding 35 gallons of recyclable items, last year at its county fair.

More than 30 people had responded to the online petition as of Monday afternoon. One Terre Haute respondent, Brett Gibson, president of Gibson Teldata, said, “After starting a personal and company recycling program a few years ago, I was amazed at how little trash ended up going to the landfill. I travel all over the country, and I am impressed by the communities that promote and use recycling programs. I would love to see our community be as proactive as possible in pursuing recycling.”

Santucci said she sees the petition “as an opportunity for fairgoers to voice their concerns about how the current state waste is being handled. I do not believe everyone would take the time to contact the fair board. This is a simple way for their voice to be heard,” she said.

“If a fair as small as the Vermillion County Fair can recycle and a fair as large as the Indiana State Fair can recycle, so can we,” she said.

Reporter Howard Greninger can be reached at 812-231-4204 or howard.greninger@tribstar.com.