City of Liberty and Volunteers Show Innovation and Leadership in Proper Disposal Methods

LIBERTY, November 10, 2014 - We all have heard of document shredding and recycling. It is what we keep saying we are going to do with those medical records, bills, and tax paperwork in that long-forgotten box of in the corner of the house or office. The box is probably sitting next to that junky old computer unit, dusty old monitor, leftover electrical cords and out-of-date cell phone, just taking up space. What to do? Well, you have heard of recycling of paper documents and plastic, but have you heard of e-cycling?

E-cycling is the proper and legal disposal of electronics. It is illegal to toss these items in the trash because many of them contain lead and mercury, both toxic to humans, wildlife, habitat and most importantly water. However, lead and mercury, as well as the plastic and glass found in electronics items can be reused and refurbished, keeping it out of landfills for centuries to come.

Most people haven’t heard of e-cycling, but it does exist. Liberty City Council Member Diane Huddleston and Mayor Carl Pickett coordinated the local Shred-It and E-Cycling Day that just occurred on Nov 1st in the City of Liberty. Assisting them in carrying out the logistics were of Liberty staff Gary Broz, Harvey Joiner, and Rudy Izaguirre. In case you missed it, it was quite the successful event.

City of Liberty officials, along with six student volunteers (Josh Williams, Madelyn Myers, Megan Clawson, DJ Melanson, and Juan Ochoa) from Liberty High School from the 1000 Club, three volunteers from Trinity River National Wildlife Refuge Volunteers (Stuart Marcus, Jeff Fletcher, and Pick Dibbern), Helen Dockery, and two private secure disposal and recycling companies, Shred-It and R.A.K.I Computer Recycling, also came together to assist in the event.

The crisp morning of Saturday, Nov 1, began with city officials and volunteers arriving to the quiet parking lot of City Hall. They prepared the area by placing traffic cones and forming a game plan. As the City has held this event several times, they knew how to run the event with efficiency. By 9:00 am, the parking lot was filled with the bustling sounds of the receiving trucks from the secure disposal companies packing materials and shredding paper. Volunteers were seen, in coordinated action, providing courteous curb-side service to citizens waiting in line. Vehicles whizzed in and out of the parking lot as if they were on a conveyor belt.

Pick Dibbern, a Trinity River National Wildlife Volunteer who earned his nickname Pick because he always has a toothpick in his mouth, recalled, “The event went very smoothly. All of the volunteers worked efficiently as a team. One person would run up to a vehicle, ask the driver to stay in the car, and ask whether or not the driver would like to keep the receptacles in which they brought the recyclables. The team would then unload the materials and take it to the right truck, paper or electronics. From there, we had two people loading the paper to shred. They were so busy, there were two people shredding from both ends of the paper shredder machine. If drivers didn’t want their boxes back, another guy would take the broken down cardboard boxes and put them in his truck. Nothing went to waste. In effort to keep the line moving, drivers were asked to stay in their vehicles and pull off to a parking area if they wanted their receptacles returned. This process took less than a minute per car.”

City Council Member, Diane Huddleston was proud to say, “We started accepting documents at 9 am, however, within 45 minutes, we had to stop taking items to give the driver a chance to make certain that he could handle the documents that had already been dropped off. After he determined he did have some space left, we were able to start taking documents again around 10:30. The truck was full when it pulled out, holding approximately 4000 pounds.” Another volunteer noted, “The truck left with a bulge on one side!”

The R.A.K.I. truck also had 4 people working with them. They accepted the electronics, combined them on pallets, and wrapped the bundles in plastic wrap for transport. The R.A.K.I. Truck hauled away 6 pallets, but were prepared for up to 10 pallets of electronics. Before driving back to Houston, one of the R.A.K.I. employees stated, “We have done similar events in Houston surrounded by large commercial buildings and received smaller amounts with less success. I was amazed at the response of people taking advantage of the event.”

Stuart Marcus, who has volunteered several times for this event has good feelings about the next city-held recycling event, “As this was the first time for the e-cycling drive, it didn’t fill the truck. However, we expect as the advertisement of this event increases and popularity of this event spreads, the R.A.K.I. truck will fill next time.” He may be right. People showed up from as far away as Beaumont, Humble, and Baytown. As in the past, many of the people taking advantage of this event commented on how much they appreciated this service and the opportunity to securely dispose of their sensitive documents in a responsible manner. Perhaps they will bring electronics the next time they return.

“The City of Liberty will host another community Shred-It Day in about six months, probably in May of 2015.”, stated Diane Huddleston. Thinking ahead, she grinned, “I know it is time to host another event when I start receiving calls inquiring as to when the recycling day will be held.”

In the event you are looking at piles of items that have accumulated in the garage or in the corner of the yard in dismay, the City of Liberty does have various times of the year in which pick-ups are scheduled. This does not go just for paper. A City-Wide Clean-Up in which the City of Liberty will be picking up debris along curbsides is scheduled for Nov 17-21, 2014. Debris must be separated into categories such as boards, metal, brush, etc. This helps them dispose of it in the proper manner. Heavy brush must be placed in a separate pile as well as it will be sent to a different location. As a note, tires, appliances, and hazardous household waste will not be picked up at this time, however, a tire recycling program will be scheduled in the future. Household hazardous waste, such as gasoline, poisons, pesticides, paints, and aerosols, are picked up quarterly. To properly dispose of hazardous household waste, call 1-800-449-7587 for more information and to schedule a pick-up.

For more information regarding future recycling events, please contact City of Liberty Administration at 936-336-3684.

By Laurie Lomas Gonzales, Refuge Biologist, Trinity River National Wildlife Refuge.

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