It's national recycling week, though for one successful eastern Iowa facility, that might as well be every week of the year.
The Winneshiek County Recycling Center has one major problem. It can hardly keep up with the demand.
"People are environmentally conscious up here. They really get into this recycling thing," recycling department manager Terry Buenzow said at the center Friday afternoon.
The Winneshiek County Recycling Center collects all kinds of materials.
"Yeah, this slinky here showed up," Buenzow said, sifting through a large recycling bin of materials from a local thrift store. "This old chair thing or whatever it is, it's got a metal frame on it. There's no real need to throw this in the landfill."
The recycling center also housed several large bales of tightly-compacted clothes.
"Textiles is probably the one material with the most growth potential that we see out there," Buenzow said. "A lot of stuff in these bales is practically new. It can be sent to another country and used in that manner."
The center even recycles political signs.
"We're going to line the ends of bales of plastic with it," Buenzow said, holding up a sign. "It's a great material."
Winneshiek County supervisor John Logsdon said the center doesn't mind getting a little creative in the materials it accepts.
"My motto is, if it wasn't previously breathing, you can bring it to us," he said.
Since the center came under county control in April of 2009, Logsdon said, every fiscal year it has ended up at least revenue neutral.
"It's money we don't have to levy for, so they won't see a levy on their property tax bill or they'll see a reduced levy on their property tax bill because we've actually made this a business and it pays for itself plus a little more," Logsdon said.
Taxpayers provide more than 2,500 tons of materials every year.
"The citizens of Winneshiek County absolutely are as green and environmentally conscious as any place in this country," Logsdon said.
This is one county-owned center where it literally pays to recycle.
"You've got a huge participation rate in Winneshiek County, and that's what you need," Buenzow said.
The Winneshiek County Recycling Center won the 2012 Iowa Recycling Association's award for best government recycling program in the state. This distinction comes to a county with a population of just more than 20,000 people.
To learn more about the center, visit its website HERE.
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