News From Terre Haute, Indiana

November 16, 2012

Celebrate recycling: Thursday was national day

Howard Greninger
The Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — After he took plastic totes from the rear of his pickup truck Thursday, Brian Hewitt placed glass bottles in marked containers at the Indiana State University Recycling Center.

“My wife actually started this, she has always been all for recycling. She is a teacher in the Vigo County schools and they recycle heavily. It is just something we always do,” Hewitt said. “Recycling has brought our trash from three or four bags a week down to one.”

Hewitt said he comes to the ISU recycling center 449 N. Ninth St., about every two weeks.

“It is convenient and easy,” Hewitt said, adding he and his wife, Teresa Hewitt, a teacher at Franklin Elementary School, have recycled for at least 10 years.

Thursday was America Recycles Day, a national day aimed at raising awareness of recycling. ISU and Wabash Valley Goodwill Industries Inc. in Terre Haute celebrated the day with activities to raise awareness. ISU conducted tours of its recycling center.

Paul Reed, ISU manager of custodial and special services, which includes the recycling center, said recycling has saved the university nearly $1 million in landfill fees spanning a 22-year period.

“Over the last years, we have collected over 3 million pounds of material in a year’s time, both through the community and the university,” Reed said. He said the university, based on a recycle mania event held in January, is at about 40 percent of “everything being recycled, so we still have a lot of material that we can still capture and a lot of work to do.”

The recycling center began in 1990 and handles any type of paper, books, glass, plastic, plastic film, steel and aluminum food cans. The center in 2007 began recycling electronic material such as TV sets, averaging 150,000 pounds a year for e-scrap.

Recycling varies each year, sometimes being profitable, others not, Reed said. “But it is the thing to do environmentally” and reduces waste to landfills.

“For example, by recycling aluminum, you save 95 percent of the energy that it takes to dig up the bauxite ore from the earth [to make aluminum]. That is almost a 100-percent turnout when recycled,” Reed said.

Becky Ramp, who has lived in Terre Haute for a year, said she has recycled for 33 years, starting with simply stacking newspapers to be recycled. She took a tour Thursday of the recycling center.

“I have never seen behind the scenes what happens to it and I wanted to see where my recycled stuff goes and see if I was doing things properly to assist them, rather than make their jobs harder,” Ramp said.

She received a cloth canvas recycled grocery bag on her tour. “I have used these for years. I have been doing this at least 10 years before other people started catching on, and I wondered what took so long for it to catch on,” Ramp said.

A few miles south of ISU at 2702 S. Third St., the Valley Brothers Band played at the Wabash Valley Goodwill, and the business offered donated prizes to anyone who could guess the number of aluminum cans in a several-hundred-pound bale.

“We like to think Goodwill is the original recycler in the country,” said Bill Tennis, executive director of the Wabash Valley Goodwill. “Goodwill started over 100 years ago recycling clothing and household items. Our Goodwill started that 85 years ago,” he added.

In 1995, Goodwill started its recycling drop-off center for tin cans, aluminum, plastic jugs, cardboard and metal, as well as batteries. Goodwill does not accept glass, Tennis said.

“Recycling creates a lot of jobs; however, the market is cyclical. Sometimes you can make a buck, sometimes you lose a buck,” Tennis said, “but we simply do it for two reasons — it creates job opportunities at Goodwill for people with employment barriers and, secondly, it keeps junk out of the landfill.

“We think that is a good environmental position to take,” Tennis said. “We have had a similar position with general Goodwill donations for 85 years now at our Goodwill to repurpose clothes and shoes and pocketbooks and all the other things people have a tendency to get rid of out of their homes,” Tennis said.

In June 2009, Goodwill began recycling computers and computer components. In April 2010, Goodwill began recycling TVs. Both ISU and Goodwill charge $5 to $10 to recycle a TV.

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

Recycling sites

• The Indiana State University Recycling Center at 449 N. Ninth St. is open for recycling from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and 6 a.m. to noon on Saturday.

• The Wabash Valley Goodwill Industries Inc. at 2702 S. Third St. is open for recycling from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday; 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday; and noon to 6 p.m. Sunday.