City moving on fast track with recycling work

Published 6:00 am Sunday, January 13, 2013

From nearly recycling zero to environmental hero in just a couple of months.

     Such is the path for Brookhaven as the city’s recycling program continues to pick up steam.

     Brookhaven was honored in Jackson this past Thursday for city leaders’ efforts to create a local recycling program.

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     The city was given the 2012 Environmental Hero Award by the Mississippi Recycling Coalition as the Local Government Recycler of the Year. A state official is expected to appear before aldermen at an upcoming meeting to present the award on the local level.

     Indeed, Brookhaven has come a long way in a short amount of time on the recycling front. The state honor recognizes that feat.

     Brookhaven recycling efforts began humbly in the summer with drop-off points for specific accepted items at two of the city’s three fire stations. Residents greeted the recycling bins warmly, with many families getting into the habit of regularly dropping off their items for disposal in an environmentally friendly way.

     A few months later, following a change in garbage pickup providers, a curbside recycling program was born. Residences were provided with blue bins for once-a-week recyclable pickup service.

     Last month, aldermen heard a report deeming the program moderately successful with a lot of room to grow.

     “Folks here have been a lot more in tune with recycling,” said Doug Atkins, representing service provider Waste Pro.

     A Waste Pro official said the program was yielding about four tons of recyclables a week compared to 76 tons of garbage collected during a week’s time. Those four tons may not sound like much, relatively, but that is still a good amount of stuff the city does not have to pay to have disposed of as garbage.

     Last year, Mayor Les Bumgarner appointed a committee of aldermen, including Ward Six’s David Phillips, Wart Four’s Shirley Estes and Ward Two’s Terry Bates, to explore recycling ideas and to make a recommendation for the city to consider. With the assistance of a number of private citizens, all have done yeoman’s work in the process and deserve credit for the city’s recycling success.

     Brookhaven has now been recognized as a hero in recycling efforts. Soon, other communities could be looking for guidance in order to emulate us in helping the environment.