A man enjoys downtown KirkwoodOpposition to curbside recycling usually presents the argument of unnecessary cost as their primary reason. With looming economic questions, how can a community afford to begin a new program when there are so few funds to go around? In Kirkwood, Missouri they answered these questions by creating a curbside program and making it a revenue stream as well, thanks to steel.

Steel food and aerosol cans were among the recycled materials that were then resold for $15,245.78 revenue. Combining this with the $11,509.96 from landfill fees they avoided and the total net savings for January was $26,755.74, a truly great accomplishment for the program.

“We did not anticipate this high of a start,” says Todd A. Rehg, the Director of Public Works. The program was discussed for 18 months in advance to their January launch and after the first month they had recycled 44 percent of all trash collected from recycling households, practically cutting their waste stream in half.

Steel’s immense value has a sustainable resource made it a must-have inclusion into the program. Unlike competing materials, creating new steel out of recycled materials uses less energy then creating virgin material so there is always a high demand.

“Curbside recycling is important to a community to give that community a sense of accomplishment of recycling rather than overtaxing the landfills,” continued Rehg. “The inclusion of aerosol cans, for example, only adds an additional recyclable material that otherwise would go to the landfill.”

Prior to the launch of the curbside program, the only recycling option for steel products in the area was a single drop off location. While this provided some support, the ease and broader coverage of a curbside program is tough to rival. For every steel can that was thrown in the trash, rather then taken to the drop off location, we lost the potential power savings of watching television for an hour or powering a 60 watt light bulb for more than four hours.

If the success will last, it remains to be seen, but this type of early success should motivate late arrivals to join the curbside caravan in Kirkwood.

“Residents need to take pride in recycling and keep separating the recyclable materials from their trash,” concluded Rehg.

A program that helps the environment and saves money for residents is definitely something to be proud of.