Area recycling struggles

By Marlena Hartz

The city of Clovis eschews all but aluminum and tin recycling because of cost issues, but one local grassroots recycling program has generated thousands of dollars for charity, and others hope to do the same.

Six years ago, Clovis resident Trudi Ford purchased an old cotton trailer from a local farmer with grant money. Now, that trailer sits in the parking lot of Zia Elementary school, collecting tons of glittering, aluminum cans from community and school members.

The program generates roughly $1,000 every nine months, according to Zia principal Jarilyn Butler. Proceeds are split between local charities and the school’s beautification program, Butler and Ford said.

“We wanted to teach our kids two things: how to have good character and how to take care of the Earth,” Ford said.
The program also developed due to lack of recycling options in the area, Ford said.

“That’s why we started this,” said Ford of she and fellow Zia employees. “It bothered all of us.”

But the Zia program has scathed only the tip of the iceberg.
Ford throws out plastic containers, cardboard, newspapers and glass at home and at school. There is nowhere else for it to go.

The city recycled materials other than tin and aluminum for a short period of time but there was “no market” for it, said Clovis Public Works Director Harry Wang.

“If we don’t make money doing something, we can’t justify it,” Wang said.

A city of Clovis’ size simply does not have the tax base to support a full-blown recycling program, Wang said. Supplying recycling bins to Clovis households and transporting recyclables, as done in other cities, isn’t monetarily plausible, he said. Even curb-side trash pickup is a luxury. In most parts of the city, residents deposit trash in alley dumpsters.

The city does transport and recycle cardboard from local companies, which consume it in large amounts, and there are also several aluminum and tin recycling drop-off points throughout the city, Wang said.

But when it comes to recycling other materials, area citizens are left to close the gap — citizens such as Pastor Kelly Fulfer of Trinity Family Center Church in Portales.
He and a friend are hashing plans to start a recycling program at the church. Proceeds would go to charity, Fulfer said.

Though the duo hasn’t ironed out all the details, they are collecting materials and are storing them, for the time being, in an empty garage.

“We do want to touch our community in a real way, but we also want to make it practical,” Fulfer said.