KINGMAN - A citywide recycling program introduced less than four months ago has been cleaning up - literally.
The Kingman EZ Recycling program has collected more than 52 tons of recyclable waste since its Nov. 22 debut, according to city Sanitation Superintendent Eddie Tapia. That tonnage includes more than 34,000 pounds of paper, 32,000 pounds of cardboard, 5,000 pounds of milk jugs and other clear plastics, and 2,500 pounds of tin, steel and aluminum cans.
"Without a doubt, I think it's far exceeded our expectations," Tapia said. "We're just delighted our community's taking part in it. Not only are city residents using it, but county residents are using it."
Tapia said the recycling program has also taken in more than a thousand pounds of plastic bags, which amounts to more than 68,000 individual bags. That amount, he noted, is completely separate from the number of bags that have found their way to Bag Central Station, a parallel recycling program being run by several local supermarkets.
"Keep in mind that's only from our three drop locations," Tapia said.
"Each supermarket has its own little drop bin, and they keep their own numbers."
Following the holiday season, Tapia said the recycling program chipped or composted more than 900 Christmas trees. It has also collected more than 8,300 pounds of "e-waste" - obsolete or defective electronics that often include lead, mercury, cadmium and other hazardous or carcinogenic chemicals.
"Our response to this type of material has been very rewarding, to keep these types of electronics out of the landfill and contaminating our water table," Tapia said.
"We welcome the idea to be able to have these electronic parts used over and over again."
Kingman EZ Recycling came about late last year, after the sanitation department applied for and won a grant from the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality for the purchase of four large recycling trailers. Three of the trailers are located at each of three local parks - Centennial Park, Cecil Davis Park, and Southside Little League Park - while the fourth is rotated in when one of the others reaches capacity.
The trailers are accessible 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, and Tapia said they receive so much attention that sanitation must switch them out three times a week just to keep up with demand.
"We were definitely behind the gun, if you will - we knew it would grow, but we didn't know it would grow this fast," Tapia said. "When we did our presentation to ADEQ, our time was based on once-a-week rotation, not knowing how much the community would use the program."
Tapia said the sanitation department is currently working on grant applications for two more trailers in the coming fiscal year. He also hopes to receive an additional grant to provide recycling educational programs to local schools.
"We're applying for an educational grant, and that is as important as those two trailers," he said.
"After speaking with ADEQ, (we know) they're really gung-ho on giving out money for education; all grades, all levels."
Tapia said Sanitation has already given one school presentation and has received calls from several other schools about coming out to discuss recycling and the processes involved. An ADEQ grant, he said, would allow presenters to give out educational materials, coloring books and other such trinkets to the children without having to dip into the city's general fund.
Sanitation submitted its grant application paperwork on Thursday, and Tapia said he expected to hear back sometime in June. In the meantime, he said, he hopes to see the recycling program continue its rousing success.
"We all know it's not a moneymaker, but it's the right thing to do, and it's about the level of customer service we're able to provide," he said. "We just want to continue to see those numbers grow and maybe in the coming year incorporate some additional areas."
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