The city's newest recycling project is a product of intergovernment cooperation and one woman's passion for recycling.
"I've always been interested in trash," said Kiersa Toll, a graduate of MU and current employee of the Missouri Recycling Association. Her first recycling project, when she was 5, was helping her parents pick up trash from the side of the road and sort out the recyclable items.
As a general studies student with a waste reduction focus, Toll wanted her senior project to benefit Columbia's recycling program. She approached Layli Terrill, Columbia's waste minimization supervisor, who in turn directed her to the Columbia Parks and Recreation Commission. Toll researched and wrote a grant proposal for a new recycling program that would allow the department to expand its recycling program.
The two departments worked with Toll, but according to Terrill, Toll "pretty much did it all."
The "Seasonal Beverage Container Recycling Project," if passed by the City Council on Tuesday, will appropriate $4,800 to put more recycling bins in designated areas of Columbia's parks. That money will match a $4,721 grant from the Mid-Missouri Solid Waste Management District.
The city implemented a similar recycling project for beverage containers in April 2003, according to the Show-Me Recycling Report, a comprehensive statewide report put together by the Missouri Recycling Association, the Missouri Department of Natural Resources and the Missouri Solid Waste Management Districts.
According to the report, the city placed 60-gallon blue bins next to gas pumps and garbage cans outside convenience stores. As of 2007, 147 containers were in use at 41 convenience stores, and 150,000 pounds of used beverage containers had been recycled.
"The C-Store program is more successful than we anticipated," Richard Weiman, solid waste utility manager, said in the report.
In addition to the convenience store project, Park Services Manager Michael Griggs said his department has been working with the Public Works Department to maintain recycling bins at some of the city's larger recreational facilities, but the council encouraged more recycling.
"We were directed by the City Council to look at ways to expand the recycling programs," Griggs said.
The appropriated funds will be used to buy bins similar to those already near convenience stores and in parks and to place them at every athletic field, in the parking lots of those fields and near park shelters, Griggs said.
"It's what citizens expect," Griggs said. "When they're done with their drink bottles, they look for a recycling container. We want to give them that option."
Toll will help the commission assess the program after it gets going, and there is a possibility for more programs in the future. "If this phase is successful, we'll look to expanding it to other parks," Griggs said.
"I'm going to take my kids to their soccer games and look for those recycling bins," Toll said. "I'll know I had a part in it, in making a difference. It's exciting. I've actually accomplished something."