Submitted by Jeannette Boner, Teton Valley Community Recycling Executive Director
This piece was originally published in the June 16, 2016 issue of the Teton Valley News as part of the weekly Nonprofit Spotlight presented by the Community Foundation of Teton Valley.
Henry Ford is famous for the modern assembly line and the mass production of automobiles. Most of us think of him as a pretty good businessman. But did you know that he was also responsible for creating the charcoal briquette? Yeah, the same charcoal which you are probably using this summer for picnics. Ford saw the wood waste and sawdust in his factories and wanted to find a way to make money off of his waste. He launched a second industry, Kingsford Charcoal, which is still strong today.
Henry Ford, recycler.
The reality is, however, that in the past 50 years, Americans have doubled the amount of waste that we generate. Recycling has increased too, but at a slower rate. In Teton County, we lose $50 for every ton of waste we haul from the Transfer Station, not including transportation or labor. That’s about $1,200 for each truck load. Your tax dollars are better spent on schools, libraries, and programs than trash.
And this is why Teton Valley Community Recycling has been working diligently for almost 20 years in Teton Valley, playing a vital role in waste diversion and all things recycling, reusing, and reducing.
While Teton County deals with the nuts and bolts of recycling, TVCR continues to serve as the voice of recycling in Teton Valley, and we aren’t all trash talk.
TVCR works toward ethical waste reduction solutions that are financially and environmentally sound for our community. The key words here are “waste reduction,” “ethical,” “financially sound,” and “environment.”
Recycling is good for the environment, but we want to make sure we do it in a way that benefits our community financially, like crushing glass and reusing it locally rather than shipping it hundreds of miles for recycling. TVCR also wants to recycle ethically, which is why we continue to advocate for utilizing full disclosure facilities that tell us exactly what they do with the recyclables that are sent to them. Finally, waste reduction includes more than just recycling. In addition to advocating for increased recycling capabilities in the valley, TVCR also promotes reducing waste at the source, reusing materials, diverting waste through composting and other means, and generally rethinking the way we deal with waste.
Working with TVCR, Teton County has steadily watched our community’s waste diversion rate climb from 13 percent only five years ago to 28 percent. Really, 28 percent! And we are not done!
While expanded infrastructure has made a key difference, much of this success can be attributed to local recyclers like you, who also helped spread the word about opportunities to reduce, reuse, and recycle. And to think, this all started with a few motivated and committed community members volunteering to operate a drop-off recycling program in the old Broulim’s parking lot two decades ago.
This year, TVCR is looking to write a new chapter in the history of valley recycling. We will partner with the county to upgrade recycling balers, work as a regional and state liaison to provide equipment for more advanced recycling opportunities and shared resources, seek grant funding that will benefit Teton County taxpayers and, of course, robust educational goals that not only serve our youngest community members, but contractors, businesses and residents alike. With these efforts, we hope to meet the 2020 goal of seeing 37 percent of waste diverted in Teton County.
For more information, please visit our website at www.tetonrecycling.org or call our new Executive Director, Jeannette Boner at 208-313-1731.
If you are affiliated with a Teton Valley nonprofit, we want to hear from you! Help us share why Teton Valley nonprofits matter. Each week, the Community Foundation will highlight a local nonprofit in the pages of the Teton Valley News. Email Dawn Banks, Marketing and Programs Director, at [email protected] or call 208.354.0230. We look forward to helping share your story!