The city of Bowling Green will use its new recycling trailer for the first time on Oct. 18 at the downtown Harvest Festival.
Getting the trailer was easier than finding companies that would take the material for recycling.
Bowling Green partnered with Western Kentucky University on a grant to cover the cost of four recycling trailers, with three for the university and one designated for the city to use at special events.
Bowling Green Environmental Manager Matt Powell said the city reviewed its recycling program and determined that it could increase the collection of recyclables with the flexiblity of a trailer that could be moved around to community events.
"The primary concept behind our trailer is that we are going to deploy it at special events, or anywhere we have a big crowd, so that we can capture some of those recyclables away from the regular trash,” said Powell.
The city got its trailer in March. Powell said that’s when the plan hit some roadblocks.
“Once we had the trailer, what we ran into was, we were not able to find a vendor who would accept the waste stream," said Powell. "When we reached out to the various recycling agencies, they all said, ‘No, we won’t take single stream recycling in the quantities that you guys are offering to bring. You’d have to separate it. You’d have to segregate it. You’d have to do some things'.”
He said the recycling of most materials is costly.
"Recycling right now is a very difficult thing to get accomplished because there’s so little value in the material that you’re trying to recycle, for the most part," said Powell.
The city considered retrofitting the trailer into sections for recyclables like paper, plastic and glass. But WKU came up with a plan that resolved the issue. Bowling Green will be part of WKU vendor contracts, with the city paying for its share of recycling.
After the Harvest Festival, the city will unload the trailer at a facility in Auburn and the contents will be stored until there’s a large enough load to fill a tractor trailer. Then it will be taken to a facility in Louisville where it will be sorted and then sent to recycling companies.
Powell said the flexiblity of placing the trailer at community events, like festivals or a 5K , will be a visual reminder of a three-part strategy: reduce, reuse, recycle.
“When you look at the tons of recycling material that we’re going to keep out of landfills, it’s a pretty small impact. But it’s important that we’re offering that to our citizens. We know that our citizens want that," said Powell." It’s important to keep those thoughts in folks' heads when they’re moving around in their daily lives, that we need to remember all three of those steps to reduce our impact on landfills.”
The recycling trailer will be at the Oct. 18 Harvest Festival at SoKY Marketplace and Circus Square Park from 4:00 to 9:00 p.m.