Recycling is a way of life in many North Texas communities, although many other communities have yet to get into the game.
Farmersville and Princeton are two Collin County cities that have discovered the benefit of recycling and the environmental awareness that the activity promotes within individual families.
Both cities have hired Community Waste Disposal to pick up their residents’ trash. CWD picks it up each week. However, every other week, the company picks up a second bin filled with recyclable materials. I’m talking about paper, metal cans, plastic, glass bottles.
How well does it work? According to Farmersville City Manager Ben White, CWD runs a huge trash-collection that only has grown since Farmersville introduced recycling to its residents.
“The bins they use for their curbside pickup program have grown from small bins to bins that are the same size as their trash bins,” White said. “Our recycling program has increased significantly,” he said and it has delivered a significant impact on the amount of trash that Farmersville residents send to the landfill.
In Farmersville, CWD also operates a hazardous waste recycling effort. “They recycle paint. We need to get rid of this material responsibly,” White said, explaining that residents who have paint or other hazardous materials to recycle, “they have to call that in. The company makes an appointment to come get it.”
In addition, Farmersville operates what White called a “community recycling center” that operates every Saturday. “Residents can take paper and other items that are too big to fit into their recycling bins to the center,” he said.
“Yes,” he said, “there has been a significant reduction in the amount of trash we send to the landfill.
CWD operates a recycling sorting operation in Irving, near the site of the old Dallas Cowboys football stadium, according to White, who said CWD employees sort the recycled items by hand.
Recycling “very definitely is a way of life here,” White said, adding that he has been city manager since 2011 and that the city has been recycling since before he became the city’s top administrator.
Robert Medigovich is a fan of Farmersville’s recycling program as well. He has a stake in it, as Community Waste Disposal’s municipal coordinator. Medigovich lives in Frisco, which he said also has an active recycling program. Farmersville, according to Medigovich, is setting the pace for community involvement in a program that he believes will go a good distance toward saving the planet.
Although the recycling ethos has taken root in many communities in North and Northeast Texas, not all of them have signed on. Bonham in Fannin County does not have a recycling program; nor does Greenville in Hunt County.
Meanwhile, Farmersville’s recycling program saved 66,000 gallons of petroleum, 3,000 trees and 1.2 million gallons of water in 2018, Medigovich said, adding that the city sent 175 tons of material to CWD’s recycling center that year. The community has been recycling products since 2001, he said. “It’s the right thing to do,” he said.
CWD also recycles for Princeton, Allen and Wylie in Collin County, said Medigovich.
Princeton, where I live – and where my wife and I recycle religiously – sends about 30 pounds of recycling material per household to CWD with each pickup; Farmersville averages about 25 pounds per household.
“The Farmersville program is one of the top recycling programs in Texas,” Medigovich said, adding that it’s “unfair to compare small communities such as Farmersville with larger cities such as Dallas, Austin or Allen.” CWD, thus, doesn’t break out community success according to size. Farmersville, he said, has about 1,000 homes.
Medigovich said Texas is a bit behind the national curve in mandated recycling. The state doesn’t require it the way many other states do, he said.
Medigovich earned his master’s degree in public administration (with an environmental emphasis) from at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, explaining that he attended college in the early 1990s, “when Ann Richards was governor.” Medigovich talked about legislation that came out of the Legislature encouraging municipalities to adopt recycling programs.
He said West Texans generally aren’t as receptive to recycling as residents in many other regions of the state, let alone the nation. He told me about a gentleman he met in Lubbock who told him he opposed recycling “because it sounded like something they do in California.” Medigovich was “going into schools in Lubbock” and told students that recycling was important in that it would save the environment. One of his students went home and told her parents what she learned in school.
The gentleman who opposed recycling agreed to commit to doing it at home “because of what I told his daughter,” Medigovich said.
“Recycling often isn’t seen as a positive issue,” Medigovich said. “But, hey, we only have one Earth.” Medigovich believes recycling is going to help preserve it.
I believe this young man is onto something.
John Kanelis, former editorial page editor for the Amarillo Globe-News and the Beaumont Enterprise, is also a former blogger for Panhandle PBS in Amarillo. He is now retired, but still writing. Kanelis can be contacted via Twitter @jkanelis, on Facebook, or his blog, www.highplainsblogger.com. Kanelis' blog for KETR, "Piece of Mind," presents his views, and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of KETR, its staff, or its members.
Kanelis lives in Princeton with his wife, Kathy.