HANCOCK COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - How can we improve recycling efforts in Mississippi? That's one of the questions that will be answered at a statewide, three day conference sponsored by the Mississippi Recycling Coalition.
Nearly 140 people from the recycling industry gathered at Hollywood Casino in Bay St. Louis to hear from state and national experts in the field. It's a timely conference for Hancock County as it struggles to re-implement its own curbside recycling program.
Tammy Raymond teaches third grade at North Bay Elementary School in Bay St. Louis. She said recycling was a big part of her life when curbside service was offered and remains important to her in its absence.
"I don't think it's a lot of trouble. I don't think it's a problem," said Raymond. "If you start at a young age, you know exactly what to do, what's acceptable, what's not acceptable, and how to recycle. It just becomes a part of your daily routine."
Recycling dumpsters are set up through-out the county to give residents a place to drop off their recyclables. Members of the Solid Waste Authority Board say it's a temporary solution as the county tries to build its recycling program back.
"It was Katrina that short circuited that entire program," said Bay St. Louis Mayor and Solid Waste Authority Board Member Les Fillingame.
He said bringing curbside service back will take community-wide support and buy-in.
"It takes a real commitment on behalf of the community to make it work out from a dollars and cents stand-point. So we're kind of easing back into a full blown curbside recycling program which starts with people utilizing the drop-off centers that we have," explained Fillingame.
He said a curbside program could add $3 or more to residents' monthly garbage bills. But the higher the participation rate, the lower the cost will be.
Sue Smith is a guest speaker at the recycling conference. She said implementing a curbside program is not something you just jump into.
"Recycling costs money. We have to collect it, haul it, palletizes it, wash it, rinse it, haul it again. It's always about the cost and what goes into it is what you'll get out of it," said Smith.
Solid Waste Authority Board members are planning to start a compost program in the near future. That, they said, would decrease the amount of vegetation going into landfills and allow residents to use the compost for landscaping.