By Kari Miller
County Liaison, Polk County Recycling & Beautification
With the continuation of the county-wide burn ban, more and more people are learning about the recycling center. Since outdoor burning is not an option right now, many have discovered the new recycling center and started bringing their cardboard to us to dispose of. We hope that they’ll continue bringing their cardboard, in addition to the other materials we take, since recycling old products into new ones has a wide-reaching environmental impact and helps to conserve our ever-dwindling natural resources.
It’s important to realize though that those materials going to a recycling center need to be treated differently than regular trash.
Trash ends up in a landfill, so it doesn’t matter if it gets dirty, but for recyclable materials to be turned into new products, they have to remain in relatively good condition. So, if you’ve been storing your old boxes outside for weeks or months waiting for the rain to come so you can burn them, it might be better to take those straight to the dump. If they look like trash, they probably are. Don’t forget to remove the packing inserts and break down the boxes if you can. Rule of thumb: If a box is smaller than a postcard, it’s too small for the baling machines.
In addition to cardboard and paperboard boxes, the recycling center also accepts aluminum cans, steel cans and clean plastic bottles and jugs at no charge. While we’re no longer taking paper (we ran into some safety issues), we are working on expanding the other materials we can take, especially plastic. As of this week, we are now accepting #5 plastic as well as #1 and #2. That includes take-out cups, pill bottles, reusable storage containers, and more; the plastic just needs to be clean. Look for the recycling triangle with a 1, 2 or 5 inside. Most plastic containers fall into one of these three categories, so recycling these can greatly reduce your trash bill. Soon, we’ll be able to accept even more. Just remember, if it smells like trash, it is.
We’ve got some great volunteers that enjoy working with us at the center. Since we need them to keep coming back in order to stay in operation, we don’t want our facility to start looking or smelling like a trash dump, attracting rodents and other nasty pests. So, keep them in mind when you’re getting your recyclables ready. If they’ll stink up your garage, please don’t drop them off with us.
Speaking of great volunteers, with the recent uptick in operations, there’s room for more volunteers to fill shifts at the center. If you’ve got an interest in recycling or helping to keep Polk County beautiful, our volunteers will tell you that working at the recycling center is a unique, fun and rewarding opportunity. We also welcome those that want to pitch in with marketing, fundraising and beautification projects, like our next Adopt-A-Highway Cleanup event on September 24. Visit our website - PCRBTexas.org - or stop by the center when we’re open to ask about volunteer opportunities.
We’re looking forward to our one-year anniversary in November and have come up with an exciting way for the community to get involved with a “Recycled Art” Contest. Individuals and groups can enter by creating a work of art out of materials that we accept at the Polk County Recycling Center for a chance to win prizes. Art pieces will be displayed at the recycling center Nov. 4-15, and people bringing in clean recyclables will get a chance to vote for the People’s Choice. Rules and entry forms will be coming soon to our website. We will also have some great raffle prizes from local businesses, and hope everyone will take the opportunity to come out and see us.
(Editor’s Note: The recycling center is located at 10311 State Hwy. 146 in Livingston (nine miles south of Hwy. 190), across from FM 2665. Google Maps tends to steer people wrong (telling them to turn off on Old Hwy. 146), so people should be aware of that if they rely on Google Maps for directions. Polk County Recycling & Beautification is the nonprofit organization that relies on grants, donations and volunteers to run, staff and maintain the recycling center. Hours are 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesdays and Fridays and 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays.)