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Construction of a new storage and drive-through facility at the Perry County Recycling Center started last week.
The cost of the project is estimated to cost roughly $36,000. Perry County applied for the grant in late 2018, and was selected to receive moneys in February 2019. Disbursement of district grant funds began in May.
Funding for the project was provided, in large part, through a grant awarded by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources (MDNR). The MDNR segments portions of the state into separate districts, with Perry County belongs to Southeast Missouri Solid Waste Management District. Perry County District 1 Commissioner Jay Wengert serves as treasurer of this district. DNR awarded $30,000, with Perry County moneys making up the remainder for the project.
Sheila Jett, Solid Waste Manager says the drive-through will serves as an additional convenience to the public, and a cost-saving revenue generator for the struggling center.
“This will allow us to house recyclable materials under roof until those items can sell, which means we can hold on to them until market prices increase, and the materials we sell will not have been outdoors in weather getting damaged,” she said. “The drive-through portion is a bonus that will help us cut down on labor costs as customers should be able to deposit their sorted items unassisted, meaning less labor costs. We are also benefiting, because the majority of the cost of construction of this building is being paid for by grant money."
Jett said the drive-through facility will be a lot like the unmanned bin currently available at the Recycling Center for Saturday morning drop-off. Vehicles will drive under roof, where one exterior wall of the building has openings labeled with a type of recyclable, such as aluminum or No. 2 plastic. Customers will drop their recycling into the proper opening, while individual bins located inside the building will be located under the openings to catch whatever is dropped in. She said more than one vehicle will be able to use the drive-through at a time.
“It’s the same idea as our large bin container,” Jett said. “People will need to have their items sorted before they come. Customers will exit their vehicle, and drop their recyclables in the proper bin. We require that patrons don’t bring us trash, as this is a self-service facility, and all non-recyclables will need to be taken back by the customer for proper disposal at their cost.”
Jett said the facility will be under video surveillance.
Construction is expected to be completed in roughly two weeks, with the facility being open for public operation towards the end of October. The construction is being completed by Ponder Built Construction of Perry County.
At this time, there are no plans to increase the hours of operation at the recycling center, but Jett said that is something the center will consider in the future once Perry County recyclers get the hang of using the self-service drive-through.
“We will need to perform a lot of public education that will take place before additional unmanned hours are added,” Jett said. “People have to read all signage, and use the bins properly or it will cause the labor costs to increase and be too large of an expense to make it sustainable. If we have to work to decontaminate bins or sort through trash, we are not achieving the goal.”
Jett said the construction of the new building is expected to add convenience for customers, and allow Perry County to continue funding a recycling center despite the fact recyclables are currently a low-value commodity.