It seems appropriate for Polk Township to receive a certificate from the Monroe County Municipal Waste Management Authority because today is America Recycles Day.
The certificate reads "In recognition for the township's strong leadership in protecting the environment through the recycling program, thereby reducing municipal waste and saving valuable landfill space and recycling far beyond what is required."
Jim Lambert, MCMWMA executive director complimented the township on its recycling center, stating that when anyone asks for an example of what works, he tells them to go see Polk Township. "You have a great program," he told them.
Brian Ahner, Polk Township supervisor chairman and roadmaster, says that out of Monroe County's 20 municipalities and townships, only four have recycling center/waste transfer stations. Polk and Chestnuthill are two of the four.
Nancy May, Polk Township supervisor/secretary, says the recycling program was initiated by the late Lee Everett, supervisor and roadmaster, about 35 years ago.
This year, the township has issued recycling transfer station permits to 1,400 households out of its approximate 2,500 homes.
The township accepts almost anything from paper, metals, glass, aluminum and plastic. They accept batteries and even waste oil.
"We heat the recycling center building with it," Ahner says.
People can even bring coal ash to the salt building where it is mixed in with the cinders used for icy roads.
Electronics are kept separate. A company from New York comes and takes them. The township receives nothing for them.
There is a minimal charge for accepting televisions, but Ahner says it at least keeps them out of landfills.
Tires are accepted at $2.50 each. These are stored until a company comes to pick them up.
The Polk Township Historical Society holds a yearly yard sale and people can bring items to the center for the sale anytime. The township will store the items until the sale.
Items dropped off that someone might be able to use are put outside for anyone to take.
The township charges $90 a year for a permit and a household can bring up to three bags of garbage a week.
In the past, the township has held two Clean Up Days a year.
"We will probably change that in the near future. Some people would come in with a U-Haul truck. We want it so people can bring their items in anytime, but there will be a small charge. We're not doing this to make a huge profit, but we would like to break even," says Ahner.
Right now, he doesn't think the township sees a profit. The tonnage is down and he remembers that two years ago, cardboard brought $150 a ton and now it's down to $95.
But the township is proud of its work in keeping as much trash out of the landfills, thanks to all the residents who help. One example is Eleanor Ringier of Kresgeville who says she recycles to help the environment and "It's the law."