Students earn while recycling
Five years ago, Robin Joseph, special education teacher at Lansing Middle School, was looking for an opportunity to recycle the excess of paper in the school.
"The school generates a lot of paper, so it's great that we get to help the environment," Joseph said.
"We had been trying to get a recycling program, in Lansing and this one fell right into our lap."
Now Lansing schools and businesses are seeing twofold benefits by recycling the paper they use. In addition to helping the environment, they're getting money for the effort.
Last year, Abitibi Paper Retriever paid out more than $500,000 to more than 1,100 Kansas City metro-area schools and businesses that use the company's green-and-yellow paper bins. Lansing schools and churches recycled over 30 tons of paper in 2004.The bins, each a six-foot cube, are capable of holding as much as two tons of paper.
At LMS, special education students collect the paper in the bins in every classroom three times each week.
Joseph said the students liked the responsibility and it resembled a job they would have in the real world.
At the end of the month, the money they receive for the collected paper goes into a fund to help pay for transportation for field trips or soda for a pop machine.
"They love it!" Joseph said. "It's one of the best things we've done."
Patty Yeradi, recycling representative for Paper Retriever, said her company collected paper every other week from Lansing Elementary School, Lansing Intermediate School, Lansing Middle School, Lansing Education Achievement Program, Lansing United Methodist Church and New Hope Assembly of God.
Paper collectors make biweekly stops at businesses and schools in Leavenworth, also.
Paper Retriever collects the paper for free, Yeradi said. If it collects more than two tons in a month from any one recycling site, the site is paid - up to $30 per ton.
And this month, these recyclers may see more benefits.
Paper Retriever is conducting its fourth annual paper-collecting contest, "Collect More Paper and Win More Money." The company will issue more than $10,000 in prizes to their clients who bring in the most paper from Feb. 1 to March 31. Last year, Maple Elementary School in Odessa, Mo., won the contest.
Reaping the benefits of paper recycling isn't a one-way street. Paying money out to local communities also helps Abitibi to thrive as the world's largest paper manufacturer. It touts itself as a full-circle recycler. It uses no new wood pulp to make paper.
Paper collected from the area bins is sorted at Paper Retriever's sorting facilities in Kansas City, Kan., near Seventh Street and Southwest Boulevard.
The company collects everything from newsprint to magazine paper. The clay coating used to make the glossy magazine paper works as an ink magnet, Yeradi said, noting Abitibi also recycles ink.
"The paper we collect helps us to feed the hungry beast," she said. "It guarantees that we will have adequate supply of paper to make more paper."
The beast she is referring to is a paper mill in Snowflake, Ariz., where the used paper is shipped by rail.
Yeradi sees paper as more of a commodity than traditionally thought.
"It can be used for so many things like insulation or even kitty litter," she said. "Paying people helps us to secure paper for these things."
Even after covering overhead costs like paying collectors and sorters and shipping paper to the mills, it would cost more to buy the supplies than it is to buy the used paper from private individuals, Yeradi said.
To get a paper-recycling bin for a business, find a nearby bin, or for more information about the paper retriever program, visit paperretriever.com or call Yeradi at (913) 722-9022.
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