MIDD-West honored for recycling successNon-profit plans to team with city on pilot program

Published 1:00 am Sunday, March 25, 2012

Sifting through about 1,500 to 2,500 pounds of recyclables daily is a snap for workers at MIDD-West Industries.

“It’s better than throwing it in the dump,” said Chris Craig, one of 55 workers at the work force training center for people with developmental disabilities that has earned a big-time honor for being the only game in town when it comes to recycling in Vicksburg.

MIDD-West, located near Rifle Range Road, has been named an Environmental Hero and Non-Profit Recycler of the Year for 2011 by the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality. It’s a feather in the cap for the work force skill developer and United Way agency in many ways, executive director Kearney Waites said.

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“People don’t take recycling seriously,” he said. “And it’s a wonderful entry-level work opportunity for those with basic and limited skills.”

MIDD-West maintains five locations around Vicksburg where paper and No. 1 and No. 2 plastics can be deposited. From there, the material is taken to the center’s offices on Smokey Lane where workers and instructors take out other items in the mix, bale the paper and collect plastic bottles and jugs in large bins.

“It provides recycling opportunities where we didn’t have them before,” said John David Burns, of MDEQ’s Office of Pollution Control and the state’s recycling coordinator. “And it reduces solid waste at landfills.”

Recycled plastic from beverage bottles often goes into other products, from carpeting to polyester shirts.

“I have a polo shirt that’s made of recycled soda bottles,” Burns said.

A pilot program by the City of Vicksburg in place since last summer will supply more paper and plastic for MIDD-West to process.

About 600 recycling bins and a recycling trailer purchased with a $25,000 solid waste grant arrived this month, grants coordinator Marcia Weaver said.

The bins will be advertised door-to-door in neighborhoods between Cherry Street and Mission 66 and around McAuley Drive, and its popularity will be dictated by how many people accept them, said city policy director Marie Thompson. MIDD-West will receive the material, though no time frame is in place to kick off the program.

“We’re only going to give MIDD-West what they can handle,” Thompson said.

Also named an Environmental Hero by MDEQ for 2011 were the City of Ridgeland (local government), Pass Christian Elementary School (educational institution), Pearl-based Advantage E-Cycling (corporate recycler), the USDA Southern Horticulture Laboratory in Poplarville (state/federal government recycler), and Greenwood-Leflore Recycling (new program).