Lack of area papers buyers restricting Clovis recycling

Dina Orozco and Melissa Breyette jog past recycling bins Thursday while running at Hillcrest Park. The bins in the park are for recycling tin and aluminum. CNJ staff photo: Eric Kluth.

Glen Seeber

Although the city of Clovis accepts paper for recycling, a Texico Junior High School math teacher learned recently the paper is not always recycled.

Gary Miller said he called the city to report a collection bin at the school was overflowing and needed to be emptied. He said his call was transferred to the city landfill. That’s how he learned some of the products collected for recycling end up instead in the landfill.

Rob Carter, the city’s coordinator for Keep Clovis Beautiful, and Johnny Stokes, landfill superintendent and recycling coordinator for the city, said recycling takes place, but not as much as might be desired.

The city works with local businesses and schools that have chosen to collect paper for recycling. But that paper is recycled only if a vendor can be found to buy it and pay for transportation. Sometimes, Carter said, no buyer is found and the paper ends up in the landfill.

The only vendor in the state that currently purchases paper for recycling is located near Gallup. The next nearest vendor is in Dallas, officials said.

“We are recycling mostly cardboard and papers,” Stokes said.

“For most of the rest, glass and other things, there is no market or the cost is restrictive,” Carter said. “We have to find a market that is willing to come and pick it up.”

Stokes added that paper and cardboard, if wet, cannot be recycled unless it’s dried first, “and we don’t have a drying area for it.”

Last month, he said, the paper and cardboard that was recycled weighed about 14 tons. “That’s a pretty good chunk … that is not being landfilled.”

Although glass can be recycled, the closest vendor that will take it is in Colorado, Stokes said, and it costs more to send the glass than the recycling company will pay.

Albuquerque, Rio Rancho and Santa Fe, for example, are better situated for this aspect of recycling because they are closer to Colorado, Carter said.

Miller said he helped get the recycling program going at Clovis’ Yucca Junior High School about 10 years ago. He’s been a strong proponent of recycling for many years. He recently helped Texico schools join the recycling movement.
He said he was disappointed to learn his recycling efforts are sometimes in vain.

“It sounds like I can recycle my papers (by placing them in recycling bins) and still have no idea if they are being recycled or not. If they don’t have a vendor, then all of my work goes to nothing.

“But it’s the best system we have, because it’s the only system we have. I guess I’ll keep recycling and let the chips fall where they may.”

Other items the city accepts for recycling, Stokes said, include aluminum, tin, large appliances and yard trimmings.
“About 60 percent of the waste stream is recyclable,” he said. “Green waste (yard trimmings) makes up 40 percent of the waste load.”

When green waste is kept separate from the rest of the garbage, it can be recycled into mulch. “All residents are more than welcome to come out and get mulch from us at no charge,” he said.

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Location, location, location
The city has bins set up throughout the community to accept
aluminum and tin for recycling. Locations of some of these include: behind Highland School; Hillcrest Park; the landfill; at Jim Hill Field; and at the girls softball complex.