It will not be an easy transition for a state not particularly known for being progressive in terms of recycling. Not only that, but landfills in that area are still plentiful and economical, according to the Lexington Herald-Leader. Nonetheless, the City of Lexington has a goal and a plan.
Steve Feese is the recycling program manager for Lexington’s Division of Solid Waste. According to the Herald-Leader, Feese said the first order of the day will be to make an “analysis of what we have in waste and really characterize where our waste is going.” In the meantime, the city is getting the word out to its residents via newsletters and the city’s website. The hope is that within the next 13 years all city residents will be at the point they are no longer sending anything to the landfills. In other words, Lexington will be a trash-free city.
The Herald-Leader reports that Feese recognizes this seems unrealistic to some, but the responsibility lies with the city to “do a lot of education to get that concept introduced to folks.” The Herald-Leader says Feese refers to the Toyota plant in Georgetown, Ky., and the Subaru plant in Lafayette, Ind., as examples of trash-free companies and how they accomplished such a fete.
Chris Holbrook is the Toyota environmental specialist. The Herald-Leader reports Holbrook said it took a couple of years and a lot of training before the company accomplished its goal of becoming “zero landfill.” He said the process started in 2002 at the directive of the Toyota Motor Corp. president, who wanted all Toyota facilities to be leaders in environmental responsibility.
According to the Herald-Leader, Feese said composting is critical to the plan. “Composting is the absolute key to achieving zero waste,” he said. “What we would ultimately need to look at is curbside collection of food waste to be mixed with yard waste.”
The Herald-Leader describes how the Toyota plant made the switch. First, the plant determined what was being thrown out and found places where those discarded items could be sold or reused. Metals and paper are easy to recycle; plastics are not so easy. Therefore, the plant’s cafeteria switched from styrofoam to paper products. The food waste is put into underground composters that yield enough composted soil to sustain a large vegetable garden – a 20-acre garden, to be exact. The Herald-Leader says that six of those acres are used to grow vegetables for the plant cafeteria and to be given away to the local food banks. The remaining 14 acres grow corn as a nitrogen source for the composter. Nitrogen speeds up the composting process.
According to the Herald-Leader, Rick Hesterburg, a spokesman for Toyota, said some construction waste still goes to the landfills, but the plant itself was able to stop sending some 16,000 tons of trash to the landfills every year.
As for the City of Lexington, the Herald-Leader says, it puts 300,000 tons of trash in landfills every year, at a cost of $7.5 million. Some recycling is done, however, and the city made $1 million last year by selling recycled products. Currently, 111 of Kentucky’s 120 counties have some form of recycling, but the programs are limited. Recently, however, the state awarded $2.3 million to 26 recycling programs across the state in an effort to encourage reducing discarded waste.
According to the Herald-Leader, Feese hopes the examples set by corporate America will inspire the residents of Lexington. Although recycling efforts can be expensive on the one hand, “it’s still less expensive to do the right thing environmentally,” Feese said.
Lexington Herald-Leader, Lexington aims to go ‘trash-free’ by 2020; http://www.kentuckyconnect.com/211/story/112530.html