A new recycling effort, which is reaching its midpoint, already is being hailed as a success by its coordinators.
Project ReDirectory, a citywide effort to recycle outdated telephone directories, has enjoyed significant public participation since it began in early December, said Mike Scott, area manager for Southwestern Bell. The collection period ends Jan. 31.
"Our community was ripe for this," he said. "It's been a constant and steady pace. It was real hectic when the new phone books came out."
Scott estimated that 48,000 phone books have been deposited in the bins around town. He said that amount would save 476 trees, 70 barrels of oil and 84 cubic yards of landfill space.
Three local Dillon stores have boxes to collect the phone books. The store at 1015 W. 23rd has two boxes, while the stores at 1740 Mass. and 3000 W. Sixth have single boxes. Most of Lawrence's elementary schools also are collecting the books, as is Southwestern Bell, 734 Vt.
Scott said he had seen a variety of phone books in the bins, including last year's Lawrence directory, older books and books from other communities.
ONCE THE boxes become full at the Dillon stores, Cottonwood Inc. takes the phone books to a parked semi-trailer at the Dillon store on Sixth Street. J.R. Condra, Cottonwood's director of vocational services, said the program means a lot to the six developmentally disabled clients who help transport the books to the trailer.
"The main thing is, they are out in the community in a big traffic area," he said. "It gives them the opportunity to be seen doing meaningful work."
Condra said the workers have made eight trips to the trailer from the three Dillon stores, including three trips the first week.
After the program ends, the trailer will be weighed and driven to Central Fiber Corp. in Wellsville for the phone books to be recycled.
Dennis Kichler, Central Fiber recycling manager, said this project was the company's first phone book recycling effort. The company plans to "experiment" with the books to make an undetermined "lawn and garden" product or an existing product, he said.
"Phone books produce a dusty fiber. That's why we haven't used it in the past," Kichler said.
OTHER problems with recycling phone books, he said, were the glue binders and color variation. The company now has new machinery to deal with the binders, Kichler said. The phone books will not be recycled into insulation as are newspapers, he said.
Kichler expects to recycle 30 tons of telephone books in the experiment.