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Science and the Environment

Recycling in the Ozarks: Global and Local Impacts of Environmentalism

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From planting trees to cleaning up lakeside waste, various activities are being held throughout the Ozarks Friday to celebrate Earth Day. Another constant that contributes to a cleaner environment is recycling.

“There are several positive aspects about it. If you look at it in terms of keeping litter and trash down, you have the aesthetics of that, plus the health benefits of not having trash around; it extends the life of the landfill.”

That’s Barbara Lucks, sustainability officer at Springfield’s Environmental Resource Center, who says recycling also adds jobs. She says due to the regional function of the recycling center, it is estimated that at least 200 jobs are secured by recycling efforts of Ozarks’ citizens.

The centers offer two main ways for residents to recycle, “curb-side” and drop-off. One of the first in the state to offer a curb-side pickup, recyclables can be taken directly from a residence and hauled to be processed.

Jim Von Behren, president of Greenway Recycling, says that recycling numbers have increased in recent years. Those figures have been aided in part by the city’s streamlined process.

“The city’s made it a lot easier with the single stream recycling program where everything can be put in one container.”

That simplicity has attracted 40 percent of residents to recycle products that have been marketed and sold, he says.

These efforts will also help to extend the life of the area landfill, says Lucks, which has 35-40 years left before it’s full.

“When one is filled up, you have to cover it up. You know if you’re out of your space, if there’s no more space for it, then it’s full, it’s done.”

Find a list of Earth Day activities taking place in Springfield here.  

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