Harrison County sees large increase in recycling with new service

Harrison County sees large increase in recycling with new service
(Source: WLOX)

HARRISON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - The Ramseys were out early Monday morning setting up for a garage sale, hoping their trash could become someone else's treasure.

It's for that same reason this Long Beach couple sits a full recycling cart out for pick up every week.

"Giving back to the environment is like putting money in the bank. If you don't give something back, before long you run out of money," said Dwight Ramsey.

Ramsey and his wife put a 35-gallon wheeled cart to good use. It's one of the changes Harrison County Utility Authority rolled out when it introduced new collection services in October last year.

Ramsey and others say there are some design flaws.

"It's very attractive, but the balance on it is off, but I wish it were a little bit bigger and more balanced, so it doesn't tip over as easily," he said.

That, along with cutting trash pick up to once a week, are some of the complaints HCUA executive director Donald Scharr says he heard about the service, but he says numbers still show great success.

"There are some people that are continuing to complain about the once a week garbage service, but we're seeing more and more people thanking us for giving them a little bit of a nudge to do more recycling," said Scharr.

Scharr said participation rates have more than doubled. Under the old program, 6,800 homes served by HCUA were recycling. Now that number is up to nearly 15,000.

Each home is also recycling 76 percent more material.

"I will say that we've had a number of people that said I've never recycled before but I'm doing it now. And actually its pretty easy. I don't even think of it anymore," Scharr said.

That's good news to the Ramseys. "We got to start somewhere to undo some of the damage that's already been done," said Ramsey.

RFID chips on the new recycling carts help HCUA track recycling rates to focus their outreach programs and improve participation.

Officials say they hope to reach 50 percent participation in the next few months.

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