Steve Kerns, director of the Citizens Community Recycling Program, spoke about his efforts to clean up Randolph County through recycling during the Elkins Rotary Club meeting on Monday.
The Recycling Program was created within the Tygart Valley Youth Group, a group started by Kerns that allowed kids and families to complete activities such as sled riding, hunting and fishing.
Kerns said the Youth Group began doing curbside recycling pickups in 2010 after he realized that recycling could be done as a community effort and could save the community money in the long run.
"There is absolutely no justification for anyone to pay anything for recycling," he said.
Kerns said he was previously a member of the Randolph County Solid Waste Authority. During that time, he said he became aware of the expensive nature of traditional recycling programs in the state.
"Recycling was tremendously expensive," he said, "a drain on communities."
After a year of curbside pickup, Kerns started an electronics recycling program, he said.
Now, he is gathering a tractor trailer-size load of electronics each month. This adds up to 240 tons of electronics each year, according to Recycling Program documents .
The documents also list the electronics program as being the highest grossing program in the state, concerning tons collected. Yard waste is also rated as number one and glass is rated as the number two program in the state.
In addition to electronics, yard waste and glass, Kerns also collects No. 3 and No. 7 recyclable plastics, pallets and batteries, all which have no market value.
Curbside collection, tin, No. 1 and No. 2 recyclable and cardboard are collected and have a market value. They are donated to area recycling centers.
After conducting the program during for several years, the recycling program could be paid doe with money saved in sanitation costs, Kerns said.
His documents note 670 tons of waste have been collected in 2012, a savings of $100,000 to the Elkins Sanitation Department in pickup and landfill tonnage.
Currently, Kerns said he directs the operation with funds from his own pocket. Occasional donations are sometimes given by local businesses, but they don't allow Kerns to break even, he said.
"We are still hoping that the government officials will get on board," he said, when asked about future funding.
Kerns said it takes approximately $1,500 a month, minimum, to fund his operation and that $9,000 to $10,000 is saved by the county during that time.
"For every dollar invested, it returns $5 to $8 into the community," Kerns said.
Kerns said he will be working to gain monetary support from local government officials. He said he believes the program is doing well for the community and he would like to see it continue.
Contact Casey Houser by email at email@example.com.