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City, County receive recycling grants

POLSON — It’s going to be easier to recycle in Polson soon. Polson Parks Director Karen Sargeant and Lake County Solid Waste District Program Manager Mark Nelson held a joint press conference to announce recycling grants. 

The city of Polson received about $24,000 from the Recycling Infrastructure Grant from the Montana Department of Environmental Quality, part of the stimulus package Sargeant said. The money will be spent on 60 and 95-gallon bins, 15 gallon tubs and wire baskets for cardboard as well as a trailer to transport the larger bins to the Transfer Station. The equipment should be here in three or four weeks, Sargeant said.

Nelson said the Lake County Transfer Station received an ERA grant for about $25,000, which will be used for four bins, the huge ones with doors. One will be located in Polson at Wal-Mart, one in Ronan, and one in St. Ignatius although Nelson hasn’t found places yet. The final bin would be used to rotate through.

As far as how the grants will work in the community, the City of Polson is going to partner with School District #23 and individually with Lake County. Sargeant plans to put bins in each school and each city department, such as the water and sewer, streets, golf course, pro shop, planning, city hall, police and the fire departments. Public bins for plastics and aluminum cans would be locate by trashcans in city parks.

All city employees are involved and have already started the recycling program. The city of Polson can be a model and show all other towns and cities “yes, we can do this,” Sargeant added. 

They’re recycling corrugated cardboard, aluminum cans, magazines and catalogs, newpapers, white office paper, phone books and plastics labeled 1 and 2.City employees as well as city commissioners and board members are encouraged to bring recyclables from home. City workers will take three hours once a week, Sargeant said, to collect the large bins, wheel them on a trailer and transport them to the Transfer Station.

The plan for the schools was to have students collect the classroom recycling boxes, take them outside and do all their sorting. Then city workers will pick up the bins and haul them to the Tranfer Station. Sargeant hopes to work with the schools in this way for two or three years, and then transition the schools into transporting their own recyclables. Recycling will give the kids ownership and teach them to be good stewards, Sargeant said.

Sargeant reported the city of Polson received a second grant from Coca Cola Keep America Beautiful, which consisted of 50 corrugated cardboard collapsible bins. The bins will be located all around the downtown area for special events such as the Cherry Festival or Hoopfest and used to recycle aluminum cans and plastic bottles, etc. 

All this recycling will help at the county level, too. Nelson explained Lake County is in a special position because every ton of trash sent to Missoula costs $37.17. About 16,000 tons were sent last year. 

“My goal is to recycle as much as possible,” Nelson explained. 

Corrugated cardboard and aluminum cans can be sold, and Nelson would like to sell enough recycled items to pay for the transfer charges, “kind of balance the books.” 

One of the big issues is public education, Nelson said. Plastics with a one or two on the bottom in the triangle can be recycled. Lids and labels should be removed and discarded, cans and plastic bottles should be rinsed and cardboard should be flattened.

“It’s key” Sargeant said,” to make it (recycling) as easy as possible for everybody.” 

Agreeing, Nelson said, “It (recycling) is the right thing to do, let’s do it the right way.”

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