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It Takes a Village: Recycling in Garrard & Lincoln Counties Is a Community Effort

In the past year, chances are you have heard something about the challenges facing recycling in America. Though services in Garrard and Lincoln County have been affected, Tommy Gooch, Solid Waste Coordinator for both counties, says the Counties’ recycling program continues to see growth and increased demand.

Because of this increase, the Recycling Center recently added curbside service routes for Hustonville, Moreland, and Junction City. Tommy says the biggest feedback he hears is a desire for expanded curbside services and an increase in the types of materials accepted.

Currently, the Center accepts aluminum and steel cans, cardboard, mixed paper, and all #1 and #2 plastics. Every day, the Center processes four tons of cardboard and five tons of paper, metal cans, and plastics. “I wish we could take more,” Tommy says. “But we’ve just about outgrown this facility. And that’s a good thing!”

Items at the recycling center are hand separated into bins by type. 

What makes Garrard-Lincoln recycling efforts so successful when centers across the country have closed is community. When asked, Tommy quickly lists the support they receive, from the small business community and thoughtful practices of county residents to the strong support from county judge executives Jim Adams and John Wilson to the backend assistance from James Bushnell and Bluegrass Greensource.

But as any visit will quickly illustrate, the people working at the center are the glue holding everything together. Tommy and his co-worker, Cathy Murphy,

put in countless hours collecting, sorting, and overseeing the resale of materials. In addition to a few part-time employees, there are the four-to-six state inmates who work at the Center. This experience provides the men with job skills and an important way to give back to the community, and Tommy notes the great amount of pride they take in their work. “We simply couldn’t do it without their help,” he says.

Despite success and continued demand, local recycling efforts face multiple challenges, primarily from the large amount of used tires and old televisions. Unlike other appliances like refrigerators and stoves, which the Center always accepts, televisions cannot be recycled and are not supposed to go to the landfill. This means that, along with the tires, they too often end up on the shoulder of one of the more than 3,000 miles of county roads in Lincoln and Garrard.

The biggest thing residents can do to ensure the ongoing success of this increasingly popular program is to remain mindful of recycling only the proper items. Trash in the recycling stream can mean big financial losses on the material resale. The cleaner the recycling stream, the more efficient and economical the program will be.

Trash, appliances, tires, and other non-recyclables are difficult for the recycling center to dispose of. 

If you are interested in touring the recycling center and learning more about the program, Tommy invites you to stop by any time while they are open. If you do not have curbside service but still want to recycle, you are also welcome to drop materials off. The center is open: 7:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Monday through Friday, or 7:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. on Saturdays. Stop by, say hello, and see this community gem in action!

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