Ripon residents by recycling are generating upwards of $80,000 a year for enhancements for Ripon Unified schools.
Some 650 tons of recyclables were collected in 2017.
The cost of a new compactor was $52,000 with the City of Ripon paying half and the parent teacher clubs at the schools paying the rest. The school clubs are being allowed to pay back their portion over five years. Each of school organization provides volunteers to man the recycling facility.
The five elementary schools have been using their prorated portions of the recycling profits to send sixth graders off to science camp. Retired Ripon Unified School District Superintendent and current Ripon City Councilman Leo Zuber was principal of Ripon Elementary School when the recycling program started. Zuber noted Ripon High has been using its funds for various school activities.
Students have been joining their parents in providing the upkeep at the center in the late afternoons three days a week and weekends with the football team and volleyball team often seen pitching in to help in the process, Zuber said.
The current Ripon Recycling Program is a public private partnership between the City of Ripon, Ripon Unified School District, Ripon Schools’ parent faculty clubs and American Recycling Company, LLC, of Tracy. The center is located in the former parking lot of the shuttered Nestles coffee manufacturing plant on East Main Street and Industrial Avenue adjacent to the city’s industrial park.
The recycling center recently took delivery of its third compactor that attaches to a shipping container provided by the city where the compacted product is stored after coming out of the large card board smashing unit and then trucked to the Tracy recycling company.
School parent club parents, their students and city workers recently relocated the parking lot drop off center moving the fenced off area for the incoming cardboard boxes that are no long required to be flattened before they go into the compactor, according to Zuber.
Zuber said that all the recycled cardboard is shipped off to China after it is processed at Tracy’s Recycling Company. He added the center has been at its current location for 12 years with the original site established in the early ‘80s when glass and plastics were taken to the lawn of the Ripon Elementary School campus on Friday afternoons.
The recyclables were sorted and driven over to a Tracy center by two Ripon men under the leadership of Ron Morris who still resides in Ripon today.
“It was never as well organized as it is now,” Zuber said.
He noted that the last compactor actually overloaded and shut down handling 3.5 tons of cardboard a week. Now the new compactor is sending 5 tons twice a week to the recycler.
“Don’t mix plastics with the cardboard,” Zuber cautioned. “In the end it will have to be separated by hand including discarded diapers found in discarded boxes that parents and students have to deal with in their sorting.”
The city of Ripon has added more security cameras in the area to protect the drop off zone and to protect the expensive compactor from vandals, urging the public to call Ripon Police when seeing any vandalism in the area at 209-599-2102. The cardboard drop off site has also been expanded for the public drive through site.
For 2017, a total of 538,000 pounds of cardboard was recycled as was 51,000 pounds of newspaper and 187,000 pounds of mixed paper, 123,000 pounds of mixed plastics, 132,000 pounds of glass, 164,000 pounds of TV monitors and 102,000 pounds of other electronics.
Currently to date in 2018, some 466,000 pounds of cardboard has been collected along with 29,000 pounds of newspaper, 169,000 pounds of mixed paper, 105,000 pounds of junk plastic and 91,000 pounds of glass, with electronics weight to date yet to be calculated.
Plastics, glass, cans and electronics are placed in other smaller shipping containers for their pick up from the site.
While the decision by China in March to stop taking recyclables from the United States due to contamination issues has rendered some of the materials valueless for the time being while domestic re-manufacturing efforts are explored, there is still a viable market for cardboard, electronics, and California Redemption Value containers.
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