The convenience of drive-thrus has been around since the 1930s. Usually those who participate in these lines are handed a bag of fast food. Now, however, a more healthy exchange is taking place in Springfield, Missouri. Set to open later this summer, a drive-thru recycling drop-off is planned as an attachment to the local Habitat for Humanity ReStore.

Included in this drop-off will be steel cans and scrap metal. Community Development Coordinator Trent Sims says steel is a necessary addition.

“Steel is an important resource that keeps our society going,” said Sims. “The industrial age would be nothing without steel or other materials and it is important to reuse those resources whenever possible so that future generations can continue to make innovations. As the population grows, we don’t want to waste needed land resources on collection sites for garbage or other materials that could be used for something else.

The drive-thru is more then just an easier way to drop off materials for residents already utilizing the facility, Sims is confident it will attract new participants as well.

“We did not want to merely, attract those who were already dropping off their materials at another site; but were compelled to come to ours because our location was closer, or because they wanted to support our mission,” Sims explained. “By creating a ‘drive-thru facility’ we are hoping to attract a demographic that has been unable to recycle due to a lack of time or convenience.”

The facility, since 2002, has had a strong following and has kept over three million cans out of the local landfill. During 2010 alone they diverted nearly 1,000 tons of materials from the landfill.

“This project will allow us to divert an additional 113.9 tons annually of aluminum cans and scrap metal,” said Sims. “In 2010 we collected 5.15 tons of cans, this was mainly from business partners in our ‘cans for habitat’ program, by advertising a public site and having 10 donation bins spread out around the city, we should be able to double our collection of cans. Scrap metal was 51.8 tons and now that we will have a public site, we have more partners willing to help us. This is very important because we are a non-profit that heavily depends on our volunteers in the community.”

“What makes our ReStore so great is the fact that we can serve as a collection site for household goods that others have decided that they no longer need, and sell them to locals at a highly reduced rate or through vouchers provided to the community,” Sims continued. “It provides a way to divert materials while also funding Habitat for Humanity in a sustainable fashion, which keeps us building homes in times of economic crisis.”

“Another added bonus to recycling steel is the revenue that is generated. While Habitat for Humanity feels that the environment is very important, and we are in the process of making all our future homes energy star rated. We find the recycling center to be very important because it helps us fulfill our mission of building affordable housing.”

Building homes, collecting and redistributing materials and now a larger capability of recycling steel and other goods the ReStore facility in Springfield is going above and beyond making a difference in their community.

“Basically the only difference between recycling and throwing away your household items, is what container you put it,” concluded Sims. “Many cities may not have convenient means of recycling or door to door service like the trash company, so that prevents a lot of people from participating. In the case of Springfield, MO and other cities with Habitat ReStores, we will come and pick up your household items. All you have to do is call and we will come get it and knowing that it will build a home for someone in need or prevent someone somewhere from having to live next to an unneeded landfill, is enough motivation for me.”