Karen Coker has seen a rise in materials being dropped off at Muskogee's Recycle Drop Off Center over the past few months.
“People are cleaning out things, so with plastics we’ve had two pick-ups already this year, and that’s usually what we have in one year in the past," said Coker, Muskogee Stormwater technician. "Our recycling is picking up because people are staying home more.”
Coker says people from Wagoner, Tahlequah and other neighboring communities travel to Muskogee's Recycle Drop Off Center to deposit their recyclable materials because it is the only recycling center open in the area.
The Recycle Drop Off Center sorts the deposited material, which is sold to companies as raw materials. However, the recycling center is not profiting from these sales. The money the recycling center makes from selling their materials goes to offset the amount the city of Muskogee pays to use the landfill.
Muskogee residents pay a $2.45 stormwater fee on their water bill for water, trash and sewer usage. Commercial and industrial properties in Muskogee pay a maximum of $643.27 a month for the same fee. Without the offset payment from the recycling center, Muskogee residents and businesses would pay a larger stormwater fee.
Between July 2019 and June 2020, the recycling center sold $6,886.34 work of glass, plastic, tin and metal. They sold $2,004 worth of glass between 10 drop offs during that time. They also sold $1,129.74 worth of plastic to Alabama or Texas, depending on which state is offering the best price, then the plastic is repurposed and made into bottles or fiber materials, such as carpets. Between the 26 pickups last year, the recycling center sold $3,752.60 worth of tin and metal to Arkansas, Tennessee and Oklahoma.
Along with the plastic, the recycling center has seen an increase in glass, cardboard, tin and aluminum drop offs. They clear their glass rolloff at least once a month, cardboard once or twice a week, and their tin and aluminum once every two weeks. They also are accepting plastic grocery bags.
Coker encourages everyone to drop off their recyclable material to recycling center to protect the planet. There is no need to bring a water bill or sign anything, and the recycling center's employees will come out to help take the materials while wearing masks and gloves.
“Plastic bottles don't break down for 200 years; glass doesn’t break down for 200 years,” Coker said. “It’s just very disappointing when people don’t care enough and they aren’t able to see it's important to recycle and keep it out of our water waste, keep it out of our meadows. It’s just a very important thing to do.”