Two changes are under way in Kootenai County’s successful program of putting recycling bins at schools. One is temporary, one permanent.
During May only, residents can drop their old telephone directories into the bins. Schools will get $30 per ton of directories, plus win cash prizes of up to $500 for collecting the most pounds, said recycling coordinator Jill Bowes.
“The whole purpose of the school drop-box program is to help schools raise money and to give people in outlying communities the opportunity to recycle without having to drive into Coeur d’Alene,” she said.
The phone books will go into the parking-lot bins normally designated for magazines. Up until April 1 of this year, the magazine drop boxes were used to collect clear glass. That changed, Bowes said, when there was no longer a market for glass.
“The cost of glass collapsed. We had to pay the processor just to take it,” she said.
So the schools wouldn’t lose money on glass, the county switched the glass bins to magazines. The price for that slick paper has gone up, said Bowes.
Aluminum and newspapers are still being collected.
The drop-box program is 4 years old. All 28 public schools in the county participate, Bowes said, because it’s an easy way to make money.
“They don’t have to have bake sales and candy sales - they just advertise (the recycling program) and wait for the check at the end of the month.”
The checks can be big. The schools earned $22,714 last year. The top recycler is Hayden Lake Elementary, which earned $3,243 after 119 tons of material was collected from its bins in 1994.
The second-highest collector last year was Ponderosa Elementary in Post Falls, which recycled 59 tons to earn $2,000. Typical of other schools, it spends the cash on such things as computer software, playground equipment and special projects.
“The bins are a great idea,” said Ponderosa principal Robert Sloyka.
Glass, as well as the other materials, are still collected curbside in Coeur d’Alene and at the solid waste department transfer station on Ramsey Road.