On January 11, 2000, the City opened a modest drop-off recycling center carved out of repurposed land at the Public Works Center. Originally open for four hours per day with a part-time employee, the Center accepted only container glass, plastic bottles, mixed paper, cardboard, newspaper, and metal cans. At the completion of the year, approximately 12,052 vehicles came through and dropped off 279 tons of commodities.
Fast forward to January 2020, the Center now hosts over 30,000 vehicles a year using a six-hour day, two full-time employees, and valuable volunteers. Non-traditional items have been added for collection, such as packing materials, batteries, all metal scrap, household hazardous waste, old electronics, and cooking oil. Several years ago, a free document destruction service was added. The “reuse” table and shelves continue to be a popular attraction. After 20 years, approximately 23 million pounds of commodities have been collected for recycling.
Mary Anne Phillips, Joplin’s Recycling Coordinator describes the Center as more than a place to drop off your recycling. “It’s also a community gathering place where people converse with friends, browse through books on the reuse shelf, and seek advice on all City matters or disposal questions. I especially like watching young readers pick up a used, but ‘new-to-them’ book or throwing their plastic bottles into the collection container.”
She’s seen a lot of fascinating items come through the center such as an antique sewing machine and a hard cover book published by the Associated Press regarding the assassination of President John Kennedy. Phillips was pleased that the center now accept household hazardous waste. “People now have a place to safely dispose dangerous items like mercury, and it’s not put into the waste stream.”
During its 20 years, the center was the site for numerous special events such as compost bin giveaways, tire drop offs, document destruction (shredding) days, plastic bottle bird feeder giveaways, and much more. Phillips, who retires in January 2020, organized, staffed, and implemented these events. Each year statistics showed increasing numbers of awareness and utilization of the Recycling Center.
In June 2016, the center became an important component to the City’s residential curbside recycling program by accepting items not available to curbside customers.
Recycling creates jobs, saves natural resources, and lengthens the life of area landfills. However, Phillips reminds residents that recycling can also create an awareness of the need to reduce, reuse, and rethink our solid waste disposal challenges.
The Recycling Center is located at 1310 West A Street and is open Tuesday and Thursday from noon to 6 pm, and Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday from 9 am to 3 pm. The center is open to all regardless of residency. Congratulations to all who have been a part of the Recycling Center and especially to Phillips who developed this community resource through her 22-plus years with the City.