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Day shines light on recycling
Sunflower seeing increase in recyclables
recycling day
A customer drops off recyclable items at Sunflower Diversified Services’ West 10th Street location. With Friday being America Recycles Day, Sunflower urges more residents to take advantage of the opportunity.

Friday marks America Recycles Day 2019, a nationally-recognized observance that celebrates and promotes recycling in the United States that falls annually on Nov. 15. People are encouraged to spread the word about the benefits of recycling and to practice recycling themselves. 

That word seems to be spreading here, said Sunflower Diversified Services Executive Director Jon Prescott. Sunflower provides recycling services for Barton, Pawnee and Stafford counties.

“We are up 787,750 pounds, or approximately 27%, which is really exciting,” Prescott said. “Our communities are really starting to embrace the concept of recycling.”

The agency operates a recycling facility at 5523 10th St. in Great Bend, a trailer in a city parking lot at 18th and Williams in Great Bend. It is also eyeing curb-side recycling, possibly next year. 

Still, in light of this day, he urges more local residents to take the recycling plunge. “Let’s make this county more green.” 

In the 12 months that ended Oct. 31, Sunflower took in a total of about 3.5 million pounds of recyclable materials, from paper to scrap metal, up from about 2.7 million pounds in the previous year. We are up when compared to the same period last year. 

Crews pick up from 188 businesses each week, with another 45 bringing items in each month. In addition, the West 10th location averages 100 cars daily with folks delivering recyclables.

Earlier this year, Sunflower placed the recycling trailer. “It has been a great success,” Prescott said.

“We originally planned to unload it twice a week but it now requires three to four times a week,” he said. It seems that the corrugated cardboard and clear plastic bottles are the bins that fill quicker then the other bins (milk containers, glass, magazines, office paper and news papers). 

“The cardboard seems to be an indication that more and more people are shopping on-line which will benefit our UPS store on West 10th because of potential returns,” he said. They are planning to open this sometime in December.

But, “we thought that the trailer would reduce the number of cars coming into our Recycling Center on West 10th, but it hasn’t,” Prescott said. They are working on getting a second trailer.

Down the road, Sunflower is still working to test market a curbside recycling service for later 2020, he said. “Unruh Brothers Waste LLC. has been a lot of help in our research and business plan development. We are hoping to try this service in the northwest quadrant of Great Bend.

History of America Recycles Day

This holiday was created by the National Recycling Coalition in 1997. Every year since then, the President of the United States usually issues a Presidential Proclamation recognizing this day and encourage his fellow Americans to commit to the act of recycling. In 2009, this holiday became an integral part of the Keep America Beautiful Campaign. Today, there are thousands upon thousands of events across the entire U.S. to not only raise awareness about recycling but to encourage people to recycle.

Interesting Recycling Facts

• 60% of trash could be recycled

• Aluminum cans can be recycled endlessly

• Aluminum cans can go from recycling back to store shelves in 2 months

• Recycling one can saves enough energy to run a TV for almost 3 hours

• 80 billion aluminum cans are used each year around the world

• If everyone recycled their newspapers, over 200 million trees could be saved each year

• 500,000 trees are cut down just to produce Sunday newspapers each week

• Each American uses almost 700 pounds of paper each year – most of which is just thrown away

• Americans throw away over 25 trillion Styrofoam cups a year

• 5 million plastic bottles are used in America every hour – most are tossed in the trash

• Plastic bags in the oceans kill a million sea creatures a year

• Every year, a billion trees worth of paper is thrown away

• Enough wood and paper is thrown away each year to heat 50 million homes for 2 decades

• Recycling one ton of plastic can save almost 2,000 gallons of gasoline


History of recycling 

Recycling is a much older concept than we give it credit for. Archaeological studies have found that during periods when natural resources were sparse, waste dumps show less household waste, giving many reason to believe that they were recycling and reusing products in the absence of virgin materials. 

In fact, finding recycled or reusable resources has always held a premium in human history. Whether it’s the “dustmen” of Victorian era England, who went around and collected coal fires to help with brick making, or the development of shoddy and mungo rags combining used materials with sparse amounts of virgin wool, recycling has played a key part in our relationship with natural resources. 

Additionally, in modern history, wartime has always been a period of buckling down and recycling. Most resources in wartime go to, well, the war. So citizens typically need to find innovative ways of reusing what materials they have for what they need. Additionally, scrap metal and second hand materials is increasingly important to help create a bank of resources for armies to turn into utilities. Examples of this are from World War II with the National Salvage Campaign in Britain and the Salvage for Victory Campaign stateside.