Mohave County lagging behind state in recycling efforts

Editor's note: The following story is the final part in a three-part series on the trash problem in Mohave County.

The activities of an average Arizonan generate 2,200 pounds of waste every year, or six pounds a day.

Unfortunately, less than four percent of Mohave County's waste is recycled, with Kingman lagging even further behind with a .03 percent recycling rate, while the average for the rest of the state is 30.3 percent, according to David Janke, a recycling research analyst with the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality.

"Recycling would benefit everyone and would help alleviate the trash problem," environmentalist Jack Ehrhardt said.

"A lot of the stuff that ends up in wildcat dump sites around the county could be recycled."

Ehrhardt, who attended an Arizona Department of Environmental Quality recycling roundtable meeting on behalf of the Hualapai Nation Nov.

8, said it doesn't have to cost a lot to recycle trash that litters county back roads and residential neighborhoods throughout the county.

"Mohave County needs to get on the recycling path," Ehrhardt said.

"County and city officials can do more.

It doesn't always take money.

It takes planning and commitment.

The community wants recycling and they want leadership in this effort."

Ingrid Lee, who also attended the meeting, was heartened by the fact that ADEQ is encouraging recycling.

"They talked about recycling grants and the fact that they are very available and attainable," said Lee, the Mohave Community College Kingman campus dean.

"They are willing to work with organizations and government agencies."

Lee said she attended the meeting to learn more about recycling.

"It is something the college could become involved in," she said.

"(Recycling" is something people have to philosophically get behind in order for it to happen - both government officials and citizens."

Janke said Mohave County has a good track record when it comes to recycling seven tons of hazardous waste - the most expensive material to recycle - 7,713 tons of asphalt, six tons of used Christmas trees and 2,093 tons of tires, during fiscal year 2001-2002, but the county is lagging behind in other areas.

"Recycling is a big problem in rural areas," Janke said.

"That is why we fund projects in rural communities."

Ehrhardt said many cities and counties have curbside recycling service, but even those that do not encourage recycling have bins where recyclables can be placed.

"It doesn't have to cost to recycle.

It takes planning and commitment.

It they (government officials) are not applying for grants they are not doing all they can."

Janke, who spoke at the recycling meeting in Kingman, said ADEQ has grants available for programs to recycle items including circuit board equipment, wood, paper, cardboard, and organic waste for gardening.

"Recycling is a way for cities and counties to cut down on the trash generated within a community," Janke said.

After applying for a grant ADEQ will evaluate the project before agreeing to fund it.

If the grant is approved, the organization or government entity must match the funds.

Cities can apply to receive a state grant of up to $200,000, he said.

He said the Boy Scouts of America applied for and received a grant for recycling in Lake Havasu City.

As a result that city's reported recycling rate for fiscal year 2001-2002 was 16 percent.

"When we fund projects we look at how many people will actually step up and help," he added.

"In the long run you need a core of dedicated people."

Ehrhardt, who lives in a house built of recycled material, said that pursuant to Arizona Revised Statute 9-500.07 and 11-269: "each municipality and county shall provide its residents with an opportunity to engage in recycling and waste reduction activities."

According the information from ADEQ communities must provide recycling opportunities to their residents.

"We have notified these communities of the statutory requirements, and of the assistance that is available through the Recycling Program.

We hope these communities take advantage of the funding opportunities available .

.

." states information in an ADEQ publication.

Mohave County District I Supervisor Pete Byers points to the county's achievements in recycling tires and hazardous waste, but admits that more needs to be done.

Byers said there is not enough money in the county budget to implement a curbside recycling program, but he, and his partner, Patty, lead by example, taking newspapers and cans to a local recycling center.

Almost anything can be recycled, Janke said.

Aluminum, cardboard, glass, newspaper, steel, office paper, plastic, oil, tires and yard waste are the most commonly recycled items.

Even items such as furniture, clothing and household items can be given to someone in need, or donated to a local charitable institution such as Kingman Aid to Abused People, Salvation Army or St.

Vincent DePaul.

Some non-profit organizations, such as Mohave County Association for Retarded Citizens have facilities and manpower to fix broken or damaged items for resale.

Ehrhardt said it is actually more costly not to recycle when the cost of operating a landfill that is filling up too quickly and cleaning up wildcat dumpsites is factored in.

"It also makes good economic sense," Ehrhardt said.

"There are job opportunities..

We have done it in Peach Springs with the building of the Natural Resource Center."

He said that if each individual can reduce the amount of waste generated, reuse containers and donate clothes and toys to a local charity and recycle by purchasing products made from, and packaged in, recycled content materials, there would be less trash in the county.

For more information about the ADEQ Recycling Program call (800) 234-5677, Ext.

4171.