Mississippi Recycling Coalition Announces 2016 Environmental Heroes

(JACKSON, MS) – The Mississippi Recycling Coalition (MRC) is pleased to announce the 2016 Environmental Hero Award recipients honoring outstanding recycling programs and organizations in the state. Each year, MRC seeks nominations of organizations, businesses, agencies, schools, and local governments from around the State of Mississippi that have excelled in their recycling and materials management program efforts. The nominees are evaluated based on the success of their recycling efforts including promotion and outreach, the duration and extent of their recycling program, their overall environmental stewardship, and the manner in which recycling has improved community waste handling and environmental practices. The MRC is pleased to recognize the 2016 recipients with our Environmental Hero Awards as “Recyclers of the Year” in the following 5 categories:

· Panola County is the recipient of the 2016 “Local Government Recycler of the Year” Award for the state. Panola County’s recycling program started in 2012 with the first recycling drop -off center located in Batesville. Since that time, the program has grown to multiple recycling drop-off locations for County residents including collection sites for waste tires, e-waste and scrap metal. In addition, the County works with local businesses, government offices, and area schools to develop recycling collection programs. The County also works with area cities and schools to conduct outreach activities and exhibits at local events such as “Batesville’s Annual Springfest” and “Scare on the Square” to promote recycling among area residents. Additionally, the County works with community and civic organizations such as the Girls Scouts, Boys and Girls Club, and the Rotary and Garden Clubs to promote and educate residents on the benefits of recycling. The amount of cardboard, paper, tires, plastics and metal collected from the various public sites, businesses and school programs as part of the County’s recycling program increased some 58% from 2014 to 2016. The County is working to continue this growth into 2017 with an additional public drop off location and new school recycling programs. For these efforts to promote and increase recycling in the County, Panola County receives the 2016 Local Government Recycler of the Year Award for the State of Mississippi.

In addition to Panola County, other local government entities receiving honorable mention for their recycling efforts include the Harrison County Beautification Commission and the Hinds County Sheriff’s Department.

· Tupelo Middle School, Golden Wave Going Green Recycling Club is the recipient of the 2016 “Educational Institution Recycler of the Year” Award for the state. The charge to start a recycling program at Tupelo Middle School (TMS) was led by TMS teacher, Mr. Anthony Golding. In considering options to incorporate service-based learning at the school, Mr. Golding determined that starting a school recycling program effort could meet that need. The school applied for and was awarded an MRC School Recycling Grant in the Spring of the 2015-2016 school year. Upon receiving the award, the school formed the Golden Wave Going Green Recycling Club with Mrs. Cassie Swoope, the school’s SPED Self-Contained teacher, and her students. Mrs. Swoope’s class, many of whom are non-verbal and/or Autistic, help collect recyclables from around the school. In addition to assisting these special needs students in learning more about recycling, their involvement with the Recycling Club gives them responsibility and purpose, and provides them the opportunity to interact with the rest of the student body. The participation of Mrs. Swoope’s class in the Recycling Club has been an overwhelmingly positive experience for the faculty and staff, students, parents and the overall community. TMS hopes that with the continued leadership of the Golden Wave Going Green Recycling Club volunteers, the school will set an example for other schools in the district. In addition, Mr. Golding and Mrs. Swoope are working to encourage recycling clubs at other schools in the district through activities such as poster contests and guest speakers. For their ongoing efforts to promote and educate students and the overall community on the benefits of recycling, Tupelo Middle School as led by the Golden Wave Going Green Recycling Club receives the 2016 Educational Institution Recycler of the Year Award for the State of Mississippi.

In addition to Tupelo Middle School, other educational institutions receiving honorable mention for their recycling efforts include the Batesville Junior High of the South Panola School District and Mannsdale Elementary of the Madison County School District.

· Toyota Manufacturing’s Blue Springs, MS Plant is the recipient of the 2016 “Business and Industry Recycler of the Year” Award for the state. Toyota–Blue Springs includes the “reduce, reuse and recycle” hierarchy for materials management as one of the company’s environmental commitments at the plant. The company’s material management programs include the establishment of a reusable packaging system, the reuse of wood pallets, and the recycling of various materials around the plant. These recycling efforts include materials generated in the plant from the production line to those generated in the offices and breakroom areas. The plant also employs 3 balers onsite to bale cardboard, plastics and office paper. In addition, the plant sets an annual waste reduction target and tracks the overall waste reduction progress to encourage employees to work to achieve this target. Over the past five years, Toyota–Blue Springs has recycled almost 50,000 tons of material including used batteries, toner cartridges, electronic wastes, empty containers (metal/poly drums, buckets), production scrap plastics, plastics from packaging, scrap copper, scrap aluminum, cardboard, wood waste and scrap metal. For their ongoing efforts to improve and promote recycling and waste reduction, the Toyota Manufacturing, Blue Springs, MS Plant receives the 2016 Business and Industry Recycler of the Year Award for the State of Mississippi.In addition to Toyota Manufacturing-Blue Springs, FV Recycling in Sumrall, MS receives honorable mention for their recycling efforts in the State.

· Columbus (MS) Air Force Base of the U.S. Air Force is the recipient of the 2016 “State and Federal Government Recycler of the Year” Award for the state. Columbus Air Force Base (CAFB) has worked over the past ten years to increase waste reduction on the base from 30% to 55% through source reduction, reuse of materials where possible, and by incorporating recycling collection and processing at the base. To help capture more of the cardboard and paper being disposed of at the base, packaging and shipping practices were changed to reduce the amount of materials used. Pallets used in shipping are returned and reused as are aircraft shipping boxes. CAFB collects paper, cardboard, plastics, metals, electronics, batteries, and used oil for recycling. Many of these materials are sorted and baled at the recycling center on the base. CAFB also operates two balers at the center. In addition, glass bottles and containers are collected on the base and pulverized into sand for use as fill material in areas on the base as well as in aquariums, potted plants, and crafts. Wood waste is also collected and processed into mulch. According to the base’s calculations, the recycling and reuse practices incorporated at CAFB have resulted in cost savings of 1/3 compared to disposal. CAFB continues to look for ways to reduce waste further, and has a goal to achieve 60% waste reduction by 2020. For these efforts to increase recycling and waste reduction on the base, Columbus Air Force Base receives the 2016 State/Federal Government Recycler of the Year Award for the State of Mississippi.

· City of Morton is the recipient of the 2016 “New Program Recycler of the Year” Award. The City of Morton started a recycling program for the first time in its history in 2013. This program was begun on a trial basis in an effort to gauge the interest of their residents. As part of the trial program, paper, cardboard, plastics, and metals were collected at a single drop-off location and plans were set to service the drop-off bin every two months. Due to growth in popularity among residents, the recycling bins began to reach capacity quickly and the City had to increase the frequency for servicing the bins. To help with the expansion of the recycling program, the City applied for and received an MDEQ Solid Waste Assistance Grant in 2015. Following this award, the City worked with their waste contractor to add recycling services to the City’s contract. This change allowed the City to transition from their trial recycling project to a long-term commitment to enhance and grow recycling in the community. The City has since expanded their recycling program through an award from the Keep America Beautiful/Dr. Pepper Snapple Park Recycling Bin Grant program to locate recycling bins in the City’s Farris Park. For their commitment to improve and enhance recycling conditions in their community, the City of Morton receives MRC’s New Program Recycler of the Year Award for the State of Mississippi.

Congratulations to each of these organizations receiving the 2016 Recycler of the Year Awards for the State! MRC appreciates the hard work and commitment to recycling that these organizations and individuals have consistently demonstrated, and we look forward to continued growth of the recycling industry in Mississippi through the efforts of this year’s award recipients.

The Mississippi Recycling Coalition is a consortium of recycling companies, local governments, state agencies, and other interested organizations in the State of Mississippi. MRC promotes and encourages responsible solid waste management through various methods such as source reduction, reuse, recycling, and composting programs. For more information on the MRC and the MRC Environmental Hero Awards, please visit the MRC web page at www.msrecycles.org, like us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/MSRecycles, and follow us on Twitter @MSRecycles.