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May 8, 2014

CHE students “go green” with recycling project-Program kicked off April 28

Jasper — In honor of Earth Day, Rachel Silver from the Southeast Rural Community Assistance Project (SERCAP) arrived on the campus of Central Hamilton Elementary School (CHE) on Friday, April 25, to engage the students in the art of recycling during their lunchtime.

In February of 2013, Hamilton County School Superintendent Thomas Moffses designated CHE as the Recycling Pilot Project for Hamilton County. Silver arrived at CHE on Friday, April 25, over a year later, with 28 recycle bins to conduct the kick-off for the program. Each of the green recycling bins has the distinguishable white triangle recycle symbol. The goal of the project, Silver explained, is three-fold: 

1) Assist Hamilton County to increase its total recycling rate from the current 19 percent to the state goal of 75 percent by the year 2020.

2) Educate the children on the benefits of recycling and how they can make a positive impact in Hamilton County on a daily basis by recycling at school, and hopefully at home.

3. Demonstrate a cost savings to the school district by reducing the frequency of trash pickup, while increasing that of recycling pick up, which is less costly than trash pickup.

The bins were made available to the school through a grant provided by United States Department of Agriculture-Rural Development (USDA-RD) as part of SERCAP's “Water is Life” Foundation through the USDA.

“It will be a cost savings for the school and it will also help Florida get to their goal of 75 percent by the year 2020,” said Silver. “Hamilton County is at 19 percent and they need to get to 75 percent by 2020.”

The idea, Silver said, is to get one school to start recycling, whereby, they will see cost savings in trash pickup. She said it was hard to get into the county, but she was glad to finally be there to promote the recycling project.

By getting young elementary students engaged in the concept of recycling, the hope is that they will continue as they get older, as well as encourage their families to participate, Silver explained. The cost of recycling versus regular trash pickup saves about a third in waste collection costs, she added. In Sumter County where the schools have already begun recycling, Silver said they estimated about a $25,000 savings in the first year.

“If they don't have the infrastructure to recycle, it changes things,” she added.

Right now in Hamilton County, Silver said, there is a recycling center at the local dump, however, residents have to bring their recycled waste there.

Marty Sanders from the local USDA office was on hand at CHE to help support the project as Silver gave a short presentation to each of the grade levels as they enjoyed their lunch, beginning with the Pre-K kids at 11 a.m. Silver explained to the children what items could be recycled, such as paper products, bottles and aluminum cans, after which she opened it up to questions. The curious grade schoolers seemed intrigued with the project and asked many questions.

“You can make a difference,” Silver told the kids. “You can make a difference by putting anything recyclable into this green bin.”

The recycle program at CHE officially kicked off on Monday, April 28, and each classroom now has one of the green recycle bins for students to take advantage of by tossing in recyclable items, rather than just dumping everything into trash bins.

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