For the past four years, Purdy R-2 School District's recycling project has provided a local facility for area residents to drop off recyclable materials.
On Saturday, Jan 9 in Purdy students and project sponsors braved the frigid weather to hold the first collection of the new year.
"We had a number of fearless customers," said Gerry Wass, Purdy Spanish Club's recycling program sponsor. "All things considered, Saturday went great."
Wass thanked Friendly Tire in Monett for donating a barrel of oil, which provided a warm heated building during Saturday's collection.
According to Wass, approximately 69,000 pounds of material has already been collected so far this school year and more material is ready to be shipped. Since the program began in January of 2006, students have helped recycle nearly 300,000 pounds of material.
In addition, Wass said the center acquired its second baler about a year ago, which is currently being used for plastic.
"We really need to use it for cardboard and get a plastic shredder as a different way to process," said Wass. "But we haven't found the money yet to do so."
Curtis Schallert, who has been a long-time supporter of the project, purchased the scales that are used to weigh the shipped materials. Schallert also provided a semi-trailer, which is used to haul the recycled materials to All Points Recycling in Cassville.
According to Schallert, he hauls approximately a semi-truck load of recycled material every other month and he anticipates the amount to increase.
"Recycling is a good and worthy program that helps save the environment," said Schallert. "I got involved with the recycling project when I was a member of the Purdy School Board. I bought the scales to help.
"Now is the time to educate and teach kids about recycling," said Schallert. "We need to continue to help teach and guide the younger generation because they are our future."
Schallert is also a sponsor and member of the Purdy Recycling Center Community Advisory Board.
"We (the advisory committee) do not have officers or offices. Our role is to encourage and provide advice to the students in the program," said Schallert. "The committee was created to help these kids make good decisions. Everyone needs someone to turn to for advice, regardless of their age."
The Purdy Recycling Center was founded by the Purdy High School Spanish Club and was developed to give students the opportunity to learn how the recycling process works as well as provide an opportunity to be involved in an environmental community service project.
More than 25 high school students and nearly 30 middle school students are participating in the project this year. Through the project, students have served thousands of community service hours.
"Our current recycling coordinator, Purdy High School senior Ramiro Rodriguez, has served over 600 community service hours," said Wass.
The recycling center is open from 2:30 to 3 p.m. each day after school and from 8 to 11 a.m. on the first and third Saturday of each month.
Items that are accepted at the center include: aluminum cans; cardboard; #1 clear plastics; #2 transparent plastics; mixed #2s, which includes detergent and shampoo type bottles; sorted pure white paper; newspapers; mixed paper, which includes catalogs, magazines and junk mail; used cell phones; used books; feed bags; tin cans; styrofoam; and used oil filters.
Patrons are asked to make sure containers are empty, rinsed out and lids are removed, materials are sorted. The group also asks patrons to remove plastic liners from feed bags and remove rubber gaskets from used oil filters. Items that are not accepted include: gasoline filters; plastic bags; and glass.
In May of 2008, the Purdy High School Spanish Club received an Outstanding School Recycling Program award from the Missouri Recycling Association for demonstrating the state's most outstanding long-term, diverse recycling and waste reduction program.
In December of 2008, the Purdy School Community Recycling Center opened its doors on the new 2,520-square-foot, customer-friendly facility.
Last spring, the recycling center held a benefit concert and raised approximately $600, which went for scholarships.
Since most recycled material is only worth between zero and $100 per ton, the Purdy recycling center depends on members of the community bringing in all of their materials, which will help make the program sustainable for years to come.