By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Sunflower earns countys recycling grant
Agency hopes to increase what it keeps out of the landfill
new deh county commission recycle grant pic web
James Potter, left, and Steven Clarke transfer cardboard from a recycling-collection unit at Larned State Hospital to a truck. Potter and Clarke are clients of Sunflower Diversified Services, which has expanded its recycling operation in the city of Larned. The agency Monday was awarded the Barton County recycling grant to further bolster its services. - photo by COURTESY PHOTO

 Jim Johnson wants to close the Barton County Landfill. Well, at least the Sunflower Diversified Services executive director wants to bolster the agency’s recycling efforts.

To help in this cause, the Barton County Commission Monday morning awarded the county’s $15,000 recycling grant to Sunflower, which was the only applicant for the funds. 

In the 2016 operating budget, the commission allocated the money under solid waste for recycling with an understanding that applications would be accepted locally. Eligible are any county department, agency, organization, recycling center, city, school district or community college located in Barton County. The application needed to demonstrate a positive economic and environmental impact in the county, be consistent with the Barton County Solid Waste Management Plan, benefit the county and its residents and increase recycling, Solid Waste Director Phil Hathcock said.

Johnson said he appreciated the grant and it will be put to a good use. Plans include repairing or replacing a box truck, upgrading a material baler, more collection containers, fans to cool work areas and increased advertising.

This package totals $19,000 and Sunflower is kicking in the $4,000 balance.

“It’s a good partnership for both entities,” Commissioner Alicia Straub said. The recycling service has kept 280 tons of waste out of the Barton County Landfill while providing good jobs for Sunflower’s disabled clients.

“Our goal is to put the landfill out of business,” Johnson said. Although a lofty ambition, he does want to increase the amount of stuff recycled.

One area that has been a target for this increase is glass. Sunflower has a grinder that can reduce glass to the point it can be used as a substitute for sand in the county’s road repair projects.

However, Johnson said the volume is not there yet. 

The issue is that bars, restaurants and other business are the largest producers of used glass bottles, but they have been reluctant to participate due to the extra time involved. “It’s such a fast pace and it is too much additional effort.”

In the beginning, Sunflower tried to coax these establishments on board, but to little avail. Johnson said his agency has the containers and is willing to add the businesses to a pick-up route.

“If people are committed to recycling, they will make the effort,” Johnson said. Sunflower will keep working at it, developing a plan and utilizing some of the grant money on an ad campaign.

“We’re chipping away at it,” he said.

In addition to individuals who deliver their recyclables to Sunflower’s facility in Great Bend and to a site in Larned, Sunflower Recycling serves 295 commercial customers in 13 communities and five counties. It has diverted an average of 3 million pounds of materials a year from the county landfill.