Special Reports

January 13, 2012

Kansas picks up recycling, serves as national role model

Nearly nine of 10 people across Kansas are recycling.

Nearly nine of 10 people across Kansas are recycling.

A survey released this week showed 85 percent of people in Kansas recycle much of their household waste. The results, compiled by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, showed a 20 percent increase in recycling over the last survey in 2005.

The biggest improvement: plastics.

Seven in 10 people recycle plastics. Nationwide, only about 12 percent of plastics are recycled.

The availability of programs making it easier to recycle is part of the growth. But people are also becoming more educated of the benefits.

“One example of increased environmental awareness here in our state is evidenced by the implementation of multiple new single stream curbside programs in Kansas communities which has made recycling somewhat more convenient,” said Megan MacPherson of Kansas Green Team, a project of KDHE.

The Green Teams, their bi-weekly Green Guide, are examples of educational initiatives striving to make people more aware of what happens to their waste.

Individuals and businesses, large and small, are learning about the values of reducing waste — both for the environment and saving money.

Some of the results from the community survey show 81 percent of Kansas households recycle aluminum cans and between 44 and 56 percent recycle paper products, such as cardboard, newsprint and mixed paper.

Nearly everyone, 96 percent, think recycling is important and 93 percent support programs for proper disposal of waste and landfill management.

Across Kansas, people are becoming more cognizant of what they throw away and what happens to it afterwards.

National role models

A Kansas prison and hospital are among national role models for recycling a reducing waste.

The Hutchinson Correctional Facility and University of Kansas Hospital are both being honored by the Environmental Protection Agency for massive recycling and waste reduction program.

The award comes through the EPA’s WasteWise, a voluntary program for businesses, state government and non-profit organizations.

The prison in Hutchinson won the nation’s top state government prize for diverting 1.4 million pounds of solid waste from local landfills. The prison runs the only mattress recycling facility in the state, and last year processed 17,000 mattress. The program saved 46,000 pounds of foam, 287,000 pounds of steel, 22,000 pounds of wood and 46,000 pounds of cotton.

The Kansas hospital won a Gold Achievement Award for workplace waste reduction. Led by its own green team, the hospital reduced its waste by 135 tons in 2010.

Recycling efforts have saved the hospital more than $177,000.

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