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New facility under construction, but community can still reduce, reuse, recycle

BY KAYLAN THOMPSON kthompson@paducahsun.com

Construction that began this summer on a new solid waste transfer station and recycling drop-off location is still underway in the Littleville area of Paducah, although no finish date is known yet.

Until the new facility opens, city Public Information Officer Pam Spencer said citizens can still recycle at the city's current drop-off facility at 920 Burnett St.

The city signed a contract with Freedom Waste at the end of last year, and the company has since been collecting the city's waste and transporting it to its nearest transfer station in Mayfield.

The contract required Freedom to construct a transfer station in Paducah and include a recycling drop-off point. While curbside recycling options remain on hold for now, Spencer said it's "something the city is still researching and looking into."

"Recycling is something that we have talked about several times as a city, but right now the recycling markets are fairly depressed," she added. "So recycling is more expensive for a community to dispose of, and if the markets were much better it might be a reverse number and it might be cheaper for us to get rid of recyclable materials."

The city currently pays Freedom $34.95 to process one ton of solid waste. For one ton of recycled materials, that number goes up to $40.

"We're interested in (curbside recycling), but it is basically a cost balance that we're trying to look into to see what kind of efficiencies we can find," Spencer said. "That's what a lot of cities are now having to look at because recycling is more expensive to deal with than regular solid waste, but it's something that we would love to be able to do."

Even without curbside recycling, there's still much citizens can do to reduce, reuse and recycle materials, food and waste, she said, such as employing the city's current recycling drop-off facility and its compost facility for large amounts of organic waste.

The recycling drop-off on Burnett Street functions as a drive-through facility where customers can drive in, unload recyclables in the appropriate containers and drive out the other side.

The facility accepts cardboard, pasteboard (like cereal boxes), newspapers, magazines, junk mail, phone books, hard and paperback books, office paper, tin, steel, aluminum cans and plastic containers. Containers should be rinsed out before being recycled.

The city currently does not accept electronics or batters, styrofoam, glass or food waste.

Drop-off times are Monday through Friday 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and Saturday 8 a.m. to noon.

Spencer said the city is determining whether or not the Burnett Street location will remain open once the Littleville facility is up and running, but for now it remains fully functional.

Paducah residents are also welcome to make use of the city's compost facility, operational since the early 1990s, Spencer said.

Crews collect and accept truckloads of brush, leaves, tree trimmings and other landscaping waste at no charge to city residents.

The waste is then combined with biosolids from the wastewater treatment plant to create an enriched soil compost for use in gardens, fields and landscaping projects.

There is a small fee for county residents who drop off yard waste at the compost facility.

The city, Spencer said, is now a leader in the area for the recycling of organic materials due to its composting efforts.

"We're creating a product out of something that in some cities just ends up going to a landfill, and we've had several cities come and visit our compost facility just to see how it operates and to look at our product," she said. "Every spring, I've gotten a load of compost and cover up all my flower beds. It's very inexpensive and it's a good product. We've gotten great vegetables and flowers out of it every year."

The compost facility, 1560 N. 8th St., is open Monday through Saturday from 7 a.m. until 3 p.m., and locals can purchase the compost for $5 per bucket-load or $15 per truck bed.

Though the cost of recycling remains high, locals can help ease city costs by reducing waste, reusing materials and composting food waste.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's website, residents can do so by shopping for products made with recyclable materials with less packaging. Shoppers should also look for items in reusable containers and begin bringing reusable or canvas bags to the grocery store to use in lieu of plastic bags.

At home, households can use energy-efficient light bulbs and rechargeable batteries, reuse plastic bags, and ask to be removed from paper mailing lists.

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