I am so excited! Finally, after what seems like an eternity, my community (Sun City Anthem in Henderson) will have an opportunity to participate in a new program that really makes a difference. Every homeowner in our area will benefit and the results promise to be spectacular. It will make lives easier, improve the community and help strengthen our country. It won’t add a dime to the monthly budget. I’m talking about Republic Services’ “Enhanced Recycling & Clean Community Effort Program.” They have worked with the city to improve their services as well as the convenience factor.
The City of Henderson has made a strong commitment to the concept of sustainability in an effort to responsibly improve the quality of life for current and future residents. They have created a Sustainability Action Plan. The plan contains some very wise guiding principles including: enhancing the environment through responsible stewardship; leadership by example; awareness and participation; recognizing the interdependence of the environment and economy; and acknowledging that local actions have regional, national and global implications.
A key goal of the plan is enhanced recycling, one of the smartest and easiest things we can do to make a difference. This simple activity incorporates every aspect of the guiding principles and provides a way for each of us to proudly participate. Our current recycling rate is abysmal, well under 10%, and way below the goals set by both the Nevada legislature and the Environmental Protection Agency. By contrast, San Francisco’s recycling rate exceeds 70%.
Recycling isn’t new by the way. (Here is a short essay on Recycling in Colonial America that you might find interesting.) In fact, in terms of the historic record, it is the absence of recycling that is relatively new, and by every meaningful measure, extremely foolish. The very essence of life depends on the constant recycling of air, water, soil, minerals, bacteria, plants and animals in the delicate, beautiful and completely interwoven tapestry of nature. There is no “waste” in nature. Likewise, there should be no waste in our culture, be it organic or industrial. In the words of William McDonough, an architect and well-respected expert on sustainable design, “We must eliminate the concept of waste.”
Granted, we can do much better on the design side of the equation by making products that last longer and that become “food” for the next phase of their journey through the natural or industrial ecosystem. However, as homeowners, we have an opportunity to responsibly deal with the daily stream of materials as it passes through our homes and lives. Republic Services is doing their part. I have personally toured their recycling facility. I’ve seen the efficiency of the operation, the jobs it creates and the results: an average of 300 tons per day of useful materials that will not be buried forever in a landfill. They are constantly upgrading their systems and procedures, improving capacity and efficiency. All of this is meaningful to our community.
The Enhanced Recycling program addresses all the issues that are important to homeowners. First of all, it is convenient and easier than ever before. The company will provide two containers to every household, one for recycling and one for trash. There are three sizes of containers. I checked the sizes and was pleasantly surprised that not only will the small containers easily meet our needs; I will actually be gaining useful space in my garage! They are sturdy, lightweight and have wheels to make them easy to move to the curb. Best of all, there is no additional charge. Republic provides them to everyone for free.
The results of the program in other areas of the Las Vegas valley have been very strong. So far, pilot program statistics show customer satisfaction rates north of 90% in most categories, with ease of use at over 95%. The bottom line is that recycling rates have jumped from under 7% to almost 30% using the new program.
“We must eliminate the concept of waste.”
- William McDonough,
architect and leader in sustainable design
We know that reducing our need for petroleum and other raw materials is a key to the strength of our nation. The Enhanced Recycling Program is part of the equation. In a community named Anthem, with facilities named “Independence” and “Liberty” that reflect the patriotic nature of its citizens, what better way to go beyond rhetoric to meaningful action! We get to walk the talk.
Here is an excellent video that explains the new program in great detail: