Friday, December 9, 2011
New recycling center now open in LIttle Elm
Users can donate "points" after recycling to a nearby school.
LITTLE ELM Despite the recent winter weather, Little Elm seems to be getting a little greener.
Reimagine Beverage Containers, a Coca-Cola initiative to boost recycling, has opened a new recycling center Wednesday in the parking lot of the new Kroger Marketplace. It is the fifth of 10 recycling kiosks to be placed in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
"It's the best state-of-the-art process I've seen," Kevin Mattingly, director of Public Works, said. "It's sharp. I think it's going to help us out and add a new dimension to recycling."
In a joint effort between Kroger and Reimagine, the on-the-go beverage recycling kiosk recycles uncrushed plastic and aluminum beverage containers, handling up to 150 containers per minute. The kiosk sorts through the containers for the consumer, moving each plastic bottle or aluminum can to the correct bin.
If a glass bottle is accidently mixed in, it won't damage the kiosk -- instead, it'll sort it into a third bin for other recyclables and will be later serviced.
Reimagine is a pilot program and is currently the only one of its kind. For Reimagine Dallas General Manager Reed Tibbetts, Little Elm is a brand-new demographic for the program since the majority of the town is single-family-based.
"Little Elm is phenomenal and active place," Tibbetts said.
The first kiosk opened in November of 2010 in Arlington. The Arlington kiosk recycles 160,000 containers each month and is serviced every 10 days. Each kiosk can hold about 70,000 containers. Tibbetts said since its placement, roughly 2 million containers have been recycled.
"We still want to grow past that," Tibbetts said. "We want each unit have over 300,000 containers each month."
The kiosk is full of sensors to monitor the intake of containers. It uses cell phone technology to send messages to Tibbetts and his technician. If a problem arises, the machine will send out a text and can typically be fixed by going online, although sometimes the technician must make a call out to the machine. The machine is required to be up and running within two hours.
"One of the responsibilities I have is continue to have a neat, clean, and professional machine and appearance at all times," Tibbetts said. "We want people to feel good about coming to this place and become a part of their pattern."
A toll-free number is also located on each kiosk for users to call if a problem does arise.
Tibbetts said the success of the kiosk depends on how active the schools and parent organizations get. He estimates that the new kiosk will be initially serviced once every month.
"Then I'd like to see their volume pick-up to Arlington's [level]," Tibbetts said.
When the containers are recycled, users can collect reward points. These points can be redeemed for gift cards to area merchants, to enter special sweepstakes such as a sports one for Texas Motor Speedway or donate to Little Elm ISD schools.
Users can donate as many points to their chosen school in the district, including Frisco-based Robertson Elementary. Every 1,000 points is worth a $100 gift card toward Staples or Office Depot, allowing each school to get up to $5,000 worth of gift cards, or 50,000 points.
"It's a really good program right now. Most people elect to donate to the schools," Tibbetts said. "We're particularly focusing in Little Elm for people to donate to the school."
Although this is a new program to Little Elm, Community Waste Disposal has offered weekly curbside recycling to residents. However, CWD accepts glass, aluminum, tin, and steel cans, paper goods including cardboard, and plastic containers labeled 1-5 and 7. Mattingly does not think the new recycling unit will hurt the CWD.
"I think it's actually going to give them a promotional advantage to get people out more and recycling," Mattingly said. "I think both can live in Little Elm. I think it'll increase the opportunities for recycling."
For now, the intent is for the kiosk to remain in the Kroger Marketplace parking lot permanently, but the program committee will review and analyze the data from 2012 before a final decision is made.
Reimagine is part of Coca-Cola's initiative to recycle the equivalent of 100 percent of plastic and aluminum containers it puts out by 2012.
"I don't work for Coca-Cola, but I'm impressed. The company has been making very good progress toward that," Tibbetts said. "I believe they are going to reach their goal by 2020."
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