Henderson Mayor Talks Trash with High School Students


HENDERSON, KY, May 12, 2016 – High school students studying environmental sciences are, understandably, concerned about issues surrounding disposal of trash and recycling.

To provide some information on how the City of Henderson is handling those issues, Mayor Steve Austin spoke to students in Sara Thomas’ Environmental Science Club this week at Henderson County High School.

“The cost to process (recyclables) continues to go up as the value is going down,” Austin said.

“Put those two things together, and it starts to create a problem for communities and people who want to recycle.”

The mayor said about 4,000 households package their recyclables, and there are also about 150 commercial containers and large recycling containers at each of the schools.

“One of the hurdles in recycling is the time, effort, manpower and expense it takes to separate recycling,” he added. “When it comes in from those curbside containers, it’s going to have a mixture of materials. Before it can be marketed or packaged, it has to be separated.”

He said about 20 percent of what comes in is not recyclable and has to be pulled out and taken to the landfill. That includes dirty diapers, half-empty pizza boxes and “all kinds of stuff people put in there.”

That’s what the sorting center at the Tri-County Recycling Center did before the decision was made to idle it to see what the market for recyclables does. The building near the Henderson County Garage will remain a drop-off center for recyclables that are sorted into marked bins as they are delivered.

Materials collected from curbside will be transferred to a larger recycling center that has more automated sorting equipment, Austin said, adding that consumers won’t notice anything different.

Nobody is questioning the importance of recycling, the mayor said, adding that he doesn’t expect the City’s curbside recycling program to go away any time soon as long as there is an outlet for the materials.

Some things are easier to dispose of than others, he told the students. The market remains relatively good for clean corrugated cardboard and white office paper. There’s practically zero market for plastic or glass, he added.

Austin told the students that one solution the City has tried is using ground glass mixed with sand to create a base for roadways.

He also explained that household garbage and solid waste that the City collects from about 10,000 households is transported to Daviess County to a certified landfill.

Demolition debris (wood products, brick and just about anything that’s not a waste product) can go to the Construction, Demolition and Debris landfill on Wolf Hills Road.

Austin added that fans of recycling can help advocate for the collection materials that are in demand (paper, cardboard and metals) and for “clean recycling.”

Their teacher, Sara Thomas, reminded students that consumers with concerns about the environment have another “R” they can lean on in addition to “Recycling.”

It’s “reduce.” “If you don’t use plastic in the first place,” she said, “you don’t have to worry about recycling it.”

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Caption: Mayor Steve Austin talks about recycling and solid waste disposal to environmental science students at Henderson County High School.

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