ELLINWOOD — The City of Ellinwood received Wednesday afternoon the first ever recycling and composting plaque from the Kansas Department of Health and Environment for its total environmental stewardship, recognizing the efforts of Ellinwood to manage waste.
"We see a community doing a lot," said William Bider, director of the Kansas Bureau of Waste Management. "Ellinwood is truly a community involved in good waste practices.
"The amount of waste diverted is significant for the population of Ellinwood," said Bider. "The average per person is higher than what we see in other places."
The residents of Ellinwood have recycled 120 tons of such recyclables such as cardboard and bottles, and 400 tons of yard waste, not including branches or trees. The city has a compost site as well as working with First Step Recycling to handle non-yard waste.
"Overall, what we see in Ellinwood is a good example of what can be done," Bider said. "Everything you are doing is voluntary. You believe it is the right thing to do manage your waste.
"Everything you recycle is saving landfill space" Bider added. The city also recycles a lot of commercial waste.
"It’s a tribute to the citizens of Ellinwood for participating in recycling programs," said Ellinwood Mayor Frank Koelsch. He was proud of the citizens and said there is little abuse at the composting site. "It has been very successful."
Bider also mentioned Ellinwood’s state-of-the-art waste water facilities, its participation in the Kansas Power Pool which utilizes wind and hydro-eclectric power and the theme of the 2010 After Harvest Festival, which was "Go Green. . .Hear the Eco," as the reasons for choosing Ellinwood.
The Ellinwood Rotary Club chooses the theme of the After Harvest Festival, which was held in July. "The Go Green is a hot issue," said Larry Panning, Rotary Club committee member. "We thought 'why not incorporate a theme that is current for the times'." The parade floats are geared around the theme.
Marcella Birzer, long-time Ellinwood resident, admitted that she was always taught to use things up or reuse them. "We’ve always recycled." She recently gave away 20 plants that found new homes at the city-wide garage sale held last weekend.
Ellinwood City Administrator Robert Peter said, "Our citizens demonstrated how progressive they are when they embraced the recycling that the community started more than 20 years ago." The city paid for a compost turner and applied for and received a KDHE grant for a recycling trailer and tractor.
The criteria for the award were good waste management, high diversion of waste and the outlook of the community as a whole. Ellinwood received the first award, and the KDHE plans to recognize other communities in the future.