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Drive-thru dining, drive-thru banking: why not drive-thru recycling?

Restaurateurs and bankers have taken advantage of the public's desire for fast, efficient drive-in service. Not only can you walk in and have your hamburger on a tray in 2 to 5 minutes, you have the option of the same service from the comfort of your car through a drive-in window. Bankers were quick to expand the drive-in window as an added service for their customers.

Why not apply this proven theory to recycling? Small cities who don't have hundreds of thousands of dollars to spend on vehicles, containers, and employees to institute curbside recycling, selected collection points are the only feasible alternative. How can cities get their citizens to bring their recyclables to selected locations?

Why not use a proven theory? Drive-thru service has worked for banks and fast food restaurants. Lees apply this success to recycling programs.

The City of Jacksonville, Arkansas, has done exactly that, and the success has been phenomenal. Starting with two portable buildings to collect recyclables, the administrators noticed mixed reactions. Although many citizens brought items to the collection station, the parking lot became littered with items left outside the building. Labor costs also became a factor because of additional sorting and transportation costs.

Another hard-learned lesson was that our society has grown to expect instant service, instant tea, instant coffee, and even instant gratification. The invention of microwave ovens has given us the ability to prepare food in seconds, a total meal (TV dinners) can be prepared during a long commercial without missing one down of football.

Why should we expect citizens to accept the mandates of recycling without demanding the same opportunity to do it quickly and without much effort on their part.

The city took an older shop building and added a driveway to allow drive-thru capabilities, built collection bins for the recyclables, and started an education process for the public to inform them of this unique way of helping to save their environment. They could recycle now without leaving the comfort of their car. An attendant would remove the items from their vehicle and place them in the appropriate bins.

Television stations and newspapers did feature articles on the new program and the response was excellent. The number of voluntary participants doubled, then tripled, Informational material was passed out concerning recycling and composting, and tours were given to elementary and junior high students.

The city has added a baler/compactor, and a test program of 1,100 homes has been started for curbside pickup. The value of having the drive-thru center has generated a tremendous amount of interest and generated volunteers to help with the recycling programs.

Small cities with limited budgets should consider this as a way to get their recycling program started. There is a minimum of up-front costs, and the benefits are outstanding.

The City of Jacksonville received an award from the state Chamber of Commerce for this program and has been nominated by the State of Arkansas for an EPA award.

There are still opportunities for cities of all sizes to be creative when it comes to recycling. Not every city can afford to start huge programs, but we all must work together to meet state and federal mandates.
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Title Annotation:Small Cities
Publication:Nation's Cities Weekly
Date:Jan 11, 1993
Previous Article:Municipal officials offer priorities for new federal leadership.
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