SORT saves recyclables from landfill
Non-profit program relies on volunteer labor for Saturday drop-off days
A local recycling volunteer group has been hacking away at saving recyclable items from going to the landfill for about 10 years.
SORT (Sort and Organize Recycling in Tonganoxie) recycling volunteers work at a drop-off site the second and fourth Saturdays of each month from 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. The location is at the Leavenworth County Fairgrounds
Originally handled by school volunteers, SORT is open for area volunteers to work the drop-offs.
SORT started about 10 years ago as a group of people who would drive around and pick up recyclable materials. The recyclables then would be taken to Lonnie's Recycling in Lawrence.
Now, SORT sets up its operation at the fairgrounds. Trailers are used for the drop-offs.
"Sometimes they are overflowing," Kim Kolman, SORT coordinator said. "We usually have more than enough to fill the trailers."
"You know it's a great thing to do when you see how much stuff is collected," said volunteer Ginna Lindquist, who works with Kolman to line up volunteers.
The recyclable items are then taken to the Leavenworth County Transfer Station, where they are sorted. Some items go to a recycling program at Fort Leavenworth.
Until Leavenworth began providing the trailers, volunteers would load up trucks and trailers of their own and take them to Lawrence. Lindquist said that it makes it a lot easier having the Leavenworth trailers.
She said sometimes they have had as many as 125 cars waiting to drop off items, but other times there have not been as many people.
SORT accepts selected items of glass, tin, aluminum, plastic and paper items.
Normally the bulk of the recyclable items received are plastic or paper.
In 1998, SORT collected 78.5 tons of material. Sixty tons of it was paper.
The program is non-profit and relies strictly on volunteers, so no money is given for the recyclable items dropped off.
A variety of volunteers work during SORT drop-offs.
Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, 4-H clubs, volunteer teachers and students and the school Science Club all take turns working the drop-off site.
Karen Stephenson, Tonganoxie fourth-grade teacher, has been involved with SORT for eight years. Each year, members of her class work the site five times. "Volunteers are always needed," Kolman said. "Some use the opportunity for community service hours."
Lindquist said, "It is a good teaching tool for the teachers.
The amount of recyclables brought to the SORT drop-offs has decreased during the years. Kolman said that this could be because of a recycling program now under way in Basehor. And some people take their items to the transfer station in Lansing.
Kolman said SORT does not accept all items. But the Leavenworth County Transfer Station will take tires, appliances and hazardous household wastes.
Last year, Leavenworth County avoided dumping between 1,300 and 1,400 tons of recyclable items in a landfill.
Anyone interested in volunteering for the SORT drop-off may call Kolman at 369-2941.
"It is definitely beneficial," Lindquist said. "It is convenient, and you don't have to drive to Leavenworth, Lawrence or Kansas City."
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