On Oct. 5, the NRC awarded the Washington County Recycling Association “Waste Diversion Project of the Year” because of its 100 percent volunteer recycling process and community involvement.
WCRA was formed in 1990. At its facility on Third and Colfax streets in Blair, the organization recycles a variety of materials such as water bottles, soap jugs, newspaper, cardboard, tin, aluminum, glass and paper. Through its nearly three decades of recycling, the organization has processed more than 15,000 tons of material through about 240,000 volunteer hours.
Each type of material must be sorted and baled according to its type, such as different kinds of plastics and metals, to be processed by recycling centers correctly. Hansen said relying on volunteer work rather than machine sorting ensures each piece of material is sorted, then bound and baled, in the correct spot.
She said Firstar Fiber Corporation’s recycling center in Omaha, where WCRA takes a large portion of its recyclables, often charges other waste management companies to send their materials there. But because of WCRA’s quality control, she said the company pays WCRA for its bales. “Everything is hand sorted by us and handled meticulously,” Hansen said.
Hansen said the majority of the money WCRA receives is given back to the community. By the end of 2018, the organization had donated over $275,000 to county churches, civic groups, school clubs, the Washington County Food Pantry, fire departments and more.