The St. Louis – Jefferson Solid Waste Management District Offers Special Community Recycling Information

The St. Louis-Jefferson Solid Waste Management District has been working to expand recycling in the St. Louis region since 1993.  The District is a regional public agency that serves St. Louis City, St. Louis County, Jefferson and St. Charles counties.  Almost two million people reside within the District, making ours the largest of the twenty Solid Waste Management Districts in Missouri.

These Districts assist local governments, private businesses, and non-profit organizations in establishing and expanding waste reduction, recycling, composting, education, and household hazardous waste programs.  Each of these programs plays an important role in properly managing the waste generated by homes and businesses on a daily basis.

The growth in recycling has been tremendous since Missouri’s recycling law was passed in 1990, when less than 5% of all waste was being diverted from disposal.  According to the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, more than 45% is now being diverted from disposal.  That is a huge increase in a very short time, and recycling is poised to continue this growth in the coming years.  Missouri has developed a vigorous recycling industry that expands our economy, protects our environment, and strengthens our communities.

The District has assisted in this effort in several ways.  In addition to technical assistance and educational resources that have helped the industry grow, the main tool has been the waste reduction and recycling grant program.  Since inception, the District has provided more than 700 grants totaling in excess of $30 million dollars to help all aspects of the recycling industry.  This may seem like a lot of money, but it translates to just about $1 per person per year.   This assistance has helped catalyze the growth of the industry by fostering collaboration and cooperation to form true public-private partnerships, which leverage tremendous amounts of additional investment.

The District appreciates the thousands of dedicated people who have committed their professional and volunteer efforts to develop an industry that will serve our state for years to come.  With their tireless work, the St. Louis region has accomplished significant waste reduction.  The District is honored to work along side these dedicated individuals. They are the true heroes in this transformation, and the region owes them a debt of thanks.  As the District works to confront the enormous environmental challenges facing our society, recycling continues to make strides to protect our environment, while growing our economy with jobs and taxes.

The District thanks and congratulates all of our partners for a job well done, and let’s keep up the good work!

Mercy Hospital: A Leader in Recycling & Waste Reduction

Mercy Hospital St. Louis  (formerly St. John’s Mercy Medical Center) hit the ground running and hasn’t stopped since receiving the first of two grants from the St. Louis-Jefferson Solid Waste District.  Since starting their expanded recycling effort in 2009 at the main campus, Mercy Hospital St. Louis has diverted nearly 750 tons of commingled (non-personal office paper, plastic, aluminum) materials alone.  For 2010, some of the other recyclables they tallied include 280 tons of cardboard, 1,560 tons of kitchen grease, 167 tons of shredded paper documents, and 14,400 fluorescent lamps.  Additional items being recycled include Freon, stainless steel, silver from x-ray film, carpet and ceiling tiles – and they are looking to do more.

Mercy Hospital St. Louis and its Environmental Director, Mary Cromeens, are the embodiment of a forward-thinking business recycling/waste reduction program.  Timothy Knipe, Executive Director of Support Services, and St. John’s Environmental Committee, meet regularly to discuss progress and review additional alternatives to recycle as much as possible through as many vendors as they can.

Mercy Hospital St. Louis is much like a small city, both in size and in the number people on campus.  Mercy Hospital St. Louis, through Mercy Hospital Foundation St. Louis, provides an excellent example of a large, multi-faceted organization that takes waste reduction seriously and diverts a growing amount of materials as they continue to expand their efforts.

When grant funding became available, Mercy Hospital St. Louis had a thorough plan in place and had already conducted significant research with vendors.  They were well prepared to purchase hundreds of collection containers and motorized tilt carts while an environmental technician was tasked with retrieving the commingled recyclable materials.  Within a few months, Mercy Hospital St. Louis went from recycling almost no commingled materials to recycling 20 to 30 tons a month.   With the program fully implemented, Mercy Hospital St. Louis now diverts 70 percent of their paper, plastic and aluminum alone and the volume is expected to grow significantly.   While promoting recycling throughout the main campus, they are also planning to extend this effort to their ancillary facilities throughout the region.

Mercy Hospital St. Louis looks forward to expanding their efforts to increase volume and to divert additional materials as options become available.

StLouisGreen.com and Operation Food Search Team Up To Recycle Holiday Lights

by Craig Jung, Executive Director, StLouisGreen.com

StLouis Green.com is excited to announce that we are teaming with Operation Food Search to conduct the 2011-2012 Holiday Light Recycling Drive. The goal this year is to collect and recycle 50,000 pounds of holiday lights, 25 TONS!  This will be a big increase from 2010, when 32,000 lbs of unwanted holiday lights were recycled.

A portion of the proceeds from the 2011-2012 Holiday Light Recycling Drive will go to Operation Food Search to feed the hungry. We are working with our sponsors and media partners to make this the most successful Holiday Light Recycling Drive in St. Louis history. Not only will we be able to keep more holiday lights out of the landfill by combining our efforts, we will also have the additional benefit of helping to feed the hungry.

Here’s how the 2011-2012 Holiday Light Recycling Program will work:

1. Beginning November 13th through January 31st, collection containers will be delivered to retail stores, businesses, and other collection sites.

2. When a container is full, it is picked up and a new, empty collection container is placed at the location.

3. There is no fee or expense associated with this program. Generous community sponsors, like the St. Louis–Jefferson Solid Waste Man-agement District (SWMD), cover the costs associated with the recycling drive.

100% of holiday lights we collect will be recycled, and, a portion of the proceeds from the Holiday Light Recycling Drive will be donated to Operation Food Search to feed the hungry. If you would like to provide a collection site, please contact StlouisGreen.com.

The StLouisGreen.com Holiday Light Recycling Drive was implemented in 2009 and grew in 2010.  With support of the St. Louis–Jefferson Solid Waste Management District and others, we are able to continue the fast growth of this unique program. This program helps us at StLouisGreen.com to educate about sustainability and green the lifestyles of people throughout the region.  Your participation will help us achieve our goals.

To find out more about the program and drop-off locations for your unwanted holiday lights please visit stlouisgreen.com.

Sun Ministries Offers Items Made From Repurposed Materials

by Rebecca Shelby

Sun Ministries, a local non-profit, operates with the goal of sustaining the organization and the environment through the manufacturing and sale of unique items made from repurposed materials.  Their core charge is recruiting, training and relocating missionaries to inner cities of America, and through this, they provide many community services.

The development of for-sale products using repurposed materials is key to their overall success.  Incorporating the manufacturing concept provides many avenues for meeting organizational and individual goals on various levels.  In addition to diverting about 1 ton of materials from landfills each week, the production process offers skills training and leadership experience while helping support the operations’ costs.   In-house, the process facilitates woodworking and sewing skills for area residents while the proceeds help them provide educational assistance through tutoring and games.   Even the sawdust accumulated in production is salvaged and used in community gardens and campsites.

Refurbished hardwood pallets are turned into furniture and burlap coffee bags are transformed into messenger bags, Christmas stockings and more.  The additional fabric and thread needed, along with sewing machines, are donated through salvage efforts.  Sun Ministries has produced and sold more than 1,000 coffee bag items in the last year and about 150 individual wood items.  They now have the capacity to double production.  Sun Ministries currently has 20 retail sales locations in 3 states, including Missouri, Iowa and Indiana for their coffee bag products.

Their recently released game, Fair Trade (based on competitive coffee cartels),  is likely the game industries first ever non-profit game publisher and the first game to be made from 100% repurposed materials.

The Hyde Park location opened in May 2010 after acquiring a donated building.  Since the building was formerly used for manufacturing, much of workshop furniture remained in place for current use.  A local company donates roughly 50 pallets a week while 8 local roasters contribute hundreds of coffee bean bags per week.

Sun Ministries is a registered 501(c)3 non-profit so donations are tax deductible.  For more information on the repurposed products being produced by Sun Ministries, the services provided through its mission or donation/volunteer opportunities, please visit online at www.sunministries.org or call 636-544-2151.

St. Louis Teachers’ Recycle Center Offers Resources For Creative Play

by Susan Blandford, Executive Director, St. Louis Teachers’ Recycle Center

Do you remember playing as a child, in the backyard, around the neighborhood, making mud pies, forts, and clover bracelets?  Coming home to dinner with dirty shorts, skinned knees, and a jar containing the strangest insect you had ever seen?

So maybe you weren’t into bugs, but chances are you can think back to a time when thinking outside the box was the norm and play wasn’t scheduled by adults.  Those where the years when you learned how to solve problems, work as a team, and respect the other players in the game.

For over twenty years, the St. Louis Teachers’ Recycle Center (SLTRC) has been working to promote free play, respect, and creativity for the benefit of area children and adults through interactive, hands-on experiential learning.  To do this, SLTRC promotes the development of Reusable Resource Centers to provide free instructional materials, donated by businesses as their unwanted by-products, rejects, overruns and obsolete materials.

The St. Louis Teachers’ Recycle Center has locations in the Crestwood and Chesterfield malls, offering teachers and the general public an affordable array of playful materials.  Support this unique organization by buying a Pound Pass and load up on art and play materials at either store.  With each purchase, SLTRC donates 5% to a “play partner” of the month—October sales benefiting Senior Dogs for Seniors.  Also new at SLTRC are monthly visiting artists.  Come check out the imaginative creations of area artists working with recycled-content materials, or apply to be next month’s visiting artist.

SLTRC’s ever popular mobile material resource center, VanGo has been making tracks around town.  Highlights from this year’s route include Ferguson Family Day, Habitat for Humanity St. Louis’s Back to School Block Party, and ARCHS 3rd Annual Early Childhood Institute at Harris-Stowe University.  Invite VanGo to your next festival, teachers’ workshop, or children’s event for a taste of creative self discovery.

If play is for kids of all ages, then the newly opened “Play Your Art Out” SLTRC Studio in Chesterfield Mall is all-ages playground for the hands, heart, and mind.  Come participate in an Open Studio and be guided by your ideas, ability, creativity, and most importantly your imagination.  To schedule a field trip, scout meeting, birthday party, or teen night, please contact Susan Blandford at sltrc@sbcglobal.net.

Waste Not, Want Not
by David Berger, Executive Director St. Louis-Jefferson, Solid Waste Management District

Missourians can be proud of the tremendous progress that has been accomplished in the creation of a statewide recycling industry that employs over 25,000 citizens.  Recycling expands our economy, protects our environment, and improves our communities.  The percentage of waste being managed by recycling continues to climb, and the participation rates also continue to go up, and it is important for both our economy and environment to continue this great work.  While it has been fascinating to watch the recycling industry evolve to this point, what does the future hold?

For all its benefits, recycling is an end-of-the-pipe solution.  As we move into a twenty-first century global economy, it is more and more important that we shift our attention to the front of the pipe, and reduce the waste being generated for disposal.    This is starting to happen throughout the global economy, as forward-thinking businesses have embraced sustainability in both theory and practice.

Sustainability means meeting the needs of the present generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs.   A review of annual reports from large businesses throughout the world reveals that their actions to move toward sustainability have become an important component of their businesses.  Companies that will prosper in the coming decades are those that recognize the “triple bottom line”, the recognition that long term prosperity means addressing environmental and social outcomes in addition to just economic considerations.

“Zero Waste” is a concept that is beginning to drive more and more business decision-making. Eliminating waste reduces costs and environmental impacts, all of which helps the bottom line.  Products are being designed from a “cradle-to-cradle” perspective, minimizing the costs of production by using less raw materials, greener materials, and incorporating recyclability of the product when it reaches the end of its useful life.

To push this further, more and more emphasis is being placed on “product stewardship” and “extended producer responsibility”.   This means that product manufacturers are required to take responsibility for the products they create.  This was pioneered through the “green dot” program in Germany, and is gaining ground in the United States.  Many states have enacted laws, including Missouri, that require computer and electronics manufacturers to set up recycling systems for their obsolete machines.  This has been in part fueled by the inappropriate dumping of materials in lesser developed countries, which have generated international attention and outrage.  In an interconnected world, there is no more “away”.

Finally, there is much more accountability coming into place to make sure that that we have active programs that go beyond mere “greenwashing”.  A lot of this is being forced by companies such as Wal-Mart, which now require suppliers to document their green practices as a condition for doing business.  This is causing a scramble of activity up and down the supply chain as businesses realize that they must take these measures to remain competitive in the coming years.  To ensure that it is not just lip service, we will continue to see an increase in “third party certification” of green practices, to help us know that green claims by businesses are indeed fact and not fiction.

The bottom line is that in the coming years, waste management will continue to expand to make huge strides in reducing the amount of waste generated at the front of the pipe, dovetailing with a mature recycling industry that handles the majority of waste that remains at the end of the pipe from producing the goods and services we need in our daily lives.

Find It On The Web — Recycling Information, Associations, Organizations and Resources

America Recycles Day- www.americarecyclesday.org

Envirolink – www.envirolink.org

Global Recycling Network – www.grn.com

Missouri Recycling Association – www.mora.org

National Recycling Coalition – www.nrcrecycles.org

Resource St. Louis – www.resourcestlouis.org

The Healthy Planet magazine: www.thehealthyplanet.com

e-cycle St. Louis – www.ecyclestlouis.org

e-cycle Missouri – www.e-cyclemo.org

St. Louis Green –  www.stlouisgreen.com

Keep America Beautiful – www.Kab.org

Earth 911 – www.earth911.org

Local Recycling Information – Government

City of St. Louis  – www.stlouis-mo.gov/government

(then go to Departments & Agencies and click Recycling)

Jefferson County Residents – www.jeffcomo.org (then go to Services and click Recycling)

St. Louis County Recycling Information – www.recyclesaintlouis.com

St. Louis-Jefferson Solid Waste Management District – www.swmd.net

St. Charles County Recycling Information – www.scchealth.org/docs/es/docs/recycle