Cape businesses lack recycling option - for now

Friday, July 23, 2010
A sanitation truck operated by IESI of Jackson picks up trash Thursday at a business in Cape Girardeau. At present IESI dumps the trash at its transfer station in Jackson. The company is seeking to add a recycling option for its commercial customers. (Fred Lynch)

Despite the recent residential recycling push by the city of Cape Girardeau, local businesses don't have that option.

"Quite a number of local business have expressed a desire to recycle, but the city doesn't take recycling from businesses," said Dr. Alan Journet, co-facilitator of the Southeast Missouri Climate Protection Initiative, a local environmental group.

Currently none of the commercial trash hauling companies serving Cape Girardeau offers a recycling pickup.

IESI of Missouri started operating the Cape Girardeau area in May 2009 and provides regular recycling pickup service to its commercial customers in the St. Louis area. It's a service that Richard Tolbert, IESI of Missouri district sales manager, said the company plans to offer in Cape Girardeau within six months to a year.

"There are enough recycling materials being generated in the Cape and Jackson area to warrant the service," Tolbert said.

Robert Slavings is site manager for IESI in Jackson. The company wants to add a recycling option for its commercial customers. (Fred Lynch)

Since IESI is new to the Cape Girardeau area, Tolbert said, it has just taken time to get a feel for how many local businesses want to recycle.

"In order to provide recycling services at rates businesses can afford, we have to have enough customers who are interested in starting it," Tolbert said.

Although the company isn't running a regular commercial recycling route in the area yet, it has helped businesses recycle on a case-by-case basis when they have large amounts of one kind of recyclable item to discard, Tolbert said.

The city does not have the facilities to handle the additional volume of recyclable materials businesses generate, said Mike Tripp, Cape Girardeau's solid waste superintendent.

"We are looking at working in conjunction with our recycling hauler from St. Louis to see if they can supply us with a bigger bailer with automated tie features so we can run more recycled materials through at a quicker pace," Tripp said. The city has a recycling pickup contract with QRS Recycling of St. Louis.

The city has plans to construct a new transfer station within the next five years to increase provide the capacity it needs to handle commercial recycling, Tripp said. The new transfer station would include above-ground scales needed to weigh trucks full of recycled materials and storage areas for the different types of recyclable materials.

Journet recalls that when the city first initiated its recycling program, businesses weren't interested.

"People are becoming more sensitive to the whole question of environmental issues and wanting to become green," he said. "There are a lot of small businesses in town who are interested in doing something if only they could."

Tolbert said that in addition to helping the environment, businesses will at least break even on the cost, if not save money by recycling.

A St. Louis auto parts store owner Tolbert recently worked with went from paying $1,200 per month for trash hauling to making $200 a month more than his waste hauling expenses just by recycling the cardboard at his business using IESI's service.

"He was only throwing away 20 percent actual trash, and the other 70 percent of his waste was cardboard," Tolbert said.

He said examining what gets thrown away is the first step to setting up a recycling plan for businesses.


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