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TAMUC, City of Commerce can local recycling program

Texas A&M University-Commerce shuts down community recycling effort on September 20, 2023.
Jerrod Knight
Texas A&M University-Commerce and the City of Commerce shut down community recycling effort on September 20, 2023.

Effective immediately, operation of the joint Community Recycle Center located on the Texas A&M University-Commerce campus has ceased.

According to a university press release, the Department of Emergency Management and Safety, in conjunction with the City of Commerce, implemented the program in 2016 to meet the recycling needs of the university and surrounding community.

The release, along with information obtained from Commerce City Hall, indicates that the reasons behind the decision include the rising costs of the program, the limited effectiveness stemming from misuse of the recycled collection bins, and a general lack of education with regard to how the recycling program was intended to work.

Either intentionally or unintentionally, non-recyclable material was regularly deposited in the bins, leading to a great deal of effort to separate the material, when possible, and sometimes to the labeling of the bin as "contaminated" by the recycling contractor, preventing the recycling of the bin's contents.

"We regret that the current recycling program was not a good fit for our community at this time. We are exploring fiscally responsible recycling solutions that might work in the future," says University Police Chief Brian Vaughn, who now directs the Department of Emergency Management and Safety for A&M-Commerce.

Asked for comment, Commerce City Manager Howdy Lisenbee shared, "The City of Commerce, in cooperation with the University, have made the decision to suspend the operation of the community recycle center. Due to the changes in the market for recycled raw materials, there is increased focus on the contamination of recycled waste streams. Loads of recycled material that contain non-recyclable trash can be considered contaminated and may ultimately end up in a landfill. We will reevaluate the effectiveness of a recycle program in the future."

Use of the recycling center, located on campus lot 16 (at the corner of Campbell and Walnut streets in Commerce,) had been assisted by Commerce Cares Recycling, a volunteer group unaffiliated with A&M-Commerce, but opted to discontinue their efforts in 2020 after months struggling to, "clean up after citizens who fail to follow recycling guidelines," according to a campus news article from June of that year.

The press release shares that alternate recycling options for Commerce residents include Walmart in Sulphur Springs, which recently installed a Community Recycling Unit that accepts specific plastic, paper, and aluminum products.

Jerrod Knight oversees station programming, news and sports operations, individual and corporate development efforts, business and budget planning and execution, and technical operations.
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