Northpoint, Boyle County solid waste receive $166k grant for recycling

The Boyle County Department of Solid Waste Management has secured a $166,596.81 grant from the Division of Waste Management Local Assistance Branch, in an effort to cut down on the amount of solid waste being thrown away by the Northpoint Training Center.

“This is a big grant,” said Donna Fechter, director of the solid waste department. “We worked with Northpoint for a year and a half … on how to formulate a recycling plan for the training center. We tried to understand what their needs were.”

The minimum security prison sits on 551 acres in northern Boyle County and is home to 60 structures, Fechter said, all information needed as part of the grant process.

“It’s one of the largest employers in Boyle County,” she said.

There are 300 employees to the 1,256 inmates housed there.

“This was going to be an extensive program, so we looked at everything they do,” Fechter said. “They have lots of opportunities there afforded these inmates in adult education and occupational programs, not withstanding the educational programs that they have. We looked at that as part of, ‘How can we incorporate a recycling program?’ and ‘How can we make this happen?’”

Initially, Fechter said, they were hauling trailers in and out of the facility, loaded with recyclables. However, that’s “cumbersome,” she said, and there are safety concerns involved.

“Inherent in a prison is security,” she said. “Those and the other trailers were not good enough.”

What the grant provides is the ability to buy four Pro-Pactor Compactors, which are more secure and will compact the garbage before being hauled.

“Nobody’s leaving. Just before you go, you compact,” Fechter said. “This helps us with the security.”

The units cost more than $34,500 each and weigh about 9,000 pounds each, before anything is added. In total, the four trailers cost over $138,000.

Fechter said they will sit in a fenced-in area on the property, secured away. There will be three in the facility at one time — one for cardboard, one for steel and aluminum, and one for plastic. The fourth one will be rotated out — when one is ready to be taken out, the other will be brought in.

Fechter said they expect to remove the cardboard once a week, and the steel and plastic ones on weeks opposite each other.

“The amount of cardboard is huge,” she said.

Shredded paper will still be collected at the facility.

The fourth compactor, when not being swapped out at Northpoint, will be used to collect recyclable materials at businesses in town, making those materials easier to transport. 

Another aspect of the grant is setting up the infrastructure so that the recycling can be collected. They set up 31 locations around the facility where recycling will be dropped and then collected by inmates to be taken to the compactors.

“We created an entire program for this mini city,” she said. “The program creates a job (for inmates) daily … this creates an opportunity to work.”

Outside of Northpoint, the grant made it possible for recycle bins to be purchased for each of the city halls and police departments in the county — Danville, Junction City and Perryville. There are already bins at the Boyle County Courthouse.

And, she said, there’s always an educational component, which Fechter said she loves.

“It’s the only thing that gets people’s attention,” Fechter said. “People need to be consistently educated. They know recycling is important, but I don’t think they understand why.”

“It’s hard to understand that we do, on this planet, have limited resources. It’s finite. If you cut a tree, you should plant a tree. Recycling is a way of taking materials and creating other products from those materials. It creates jobs. In most cases, but not all, it uses less energy. And, it’s what we call ‘Closing the Loop.’” 

Closing the loop, she explained, refers to buying recycled items, keeping those items out of a landfill and instead circling them back around for a purpose.

“Recycling is important,” Fechter said. “Recycling does affect the amount of solid waste that goes into the landfill.”

Overall, Fechter said, the grant will make a big impact.

“You’re reducing the solid waste disposal of Northpoint, which is huge,” she said.

The compactors are expected to be purchased and installed late this fall, possibly October or November. Fechter said she appreciated the grant, as well as the willingness of Northpoint and the Boyle County Fiscal Court.

“I appreciate them taking the time, looking at (the application) and reading this thoroughly to see that this is a good program. You can’t help but just thank Northpoint, for also working with us for the time that they did to have this happen. To make this happen,” Fechter said. “It’s a good thing because we’re not landfilling as much … This is the part of my job I love. I love it when we’ve created something that brings more people on board.”

SO YOU KNOW

To learn more about what is accepted at the Boyle County Convenience Centers, visit bit.ly/bcsolidwaste.