Maryville's NOCOMO Industries sheltered workshop and the Northwest Missouri Regional Solid Waste Management District celebrated Earth Day on Monday by releasing the results of a five-month school recycling contest that diverted more than 10 tons of refuse from regional landfills.
The competition, which involved schools in six districts in Nodaway and Gentry counties began Nov. 15 — America Recycles Day — and ended last week. More than 2,700 young people from first graders to high school seniors took part.
The winner was Northeast Nodaway High School, where 95 students dropped off 3,350 pounds worth of recyclable waste, which comes to 35.26 pounds per individual.
Elementary and high school students in Stanberry in Gentry County placed second with a total of 6,500 pounds, or 20.12 pounds per individual.
Other participating schools together with pounds of recyclables per student were: Nodaway Holt Elementary School, 13.35 pounds; West Nodaway high school/elementary school, 10.71 pounds; King City Elementary School (Gentry County), 4.52 pounds; Eugene Field Elementary School, Maryville, 4.4 pounds; Maryville High School/Northwest Technical School, 3.28 pounds; Maryville Middle School, 1.27 pounds; and South Nodaway Elementary School.0.78 pounds.
All recyclables collected were donated to the workshop, whose large recycling operation provides dozens of jobs for workers coping with a range of physical and cognitive disabilities.
Workshop employees sorted and baled the waste, which General Manager Nicki Samson said is being sold to more than 20 brokers and ultimately transformed into manufactured items as diverse as bicycle parts, appliances, backpacks, sheetrock, outdoor furniture and cat litter.
On average, Samson said, the workshop, which is equipped with industrial balers and a mechanized sorting line, processes an average of 17,000 pounds worth of recyclables each work day.
Regional Solid Waste Management Planner Linda Laderoute said the contest was a one-year event whose purpose was to encourage schools to develop their own autonomous recycling resources.
One obstacle to recycling in rural areas, she said, is a lack of infrastructure such as drop-off sites and collection bins. It's a problem she believes the contest may have helped address by educating school districts about various recycling options.
Laderoute added that the Solid Waste Management District has about $47,000 in grant money available each year to help cities, counties, schools and other non-profit entities beef up recycling efforts.
"Some of the schools are already doing this," Samson said of the recycling drive's impact, "but not to this level or this amount of awareness."
The recently concluded contest collected such items as paper, tin cans, cardboard, plastic bottles and aluminum cans, materials that are routinely accepted by NOCOMO from its regular suppliers, which include several private waste hauling firms.
As part of its ongoing effort to encourage recycling in the Maryville region, NOCOMO offers tours of its Newton Street processing facility to school groups, such as the West Nodaway High School environmental science class, which toured the plant late Monday morning.