*Editor’s Note: This story has been updated throughout.
On a recent Saturday morning in the McCulloch Middle and Intermediate School parking lot, were big packing trucks from Shred-it that sat like trains, puffing out black smoke as they destroyed and recycled private paper files.
Twice a year, Highland Park and University Park come together to host an event that lets people in the community get rid of the unwanted that clutters their homes. Other trucks that were on site to collect the materials were ECS Refining and the Salvation Army.
The Park Cities recycling event started in 2011 and has occurred biannually every fall and spring since then. Each time cars line the parking lot and unload in an airport-like fashion. Workers in shiny orange traffic vests greet the drivers and unpack a variety of different items.
Director of public works for University Park, Jacob Speer, said he has been working this event since it started and has seen it evolve from year to year.
“It’s always a steady steam of cars for the five hours we are out here,” Speer said. “Some cars we see multiple times in a day even.”
Speer said the event started with just Shred-it, but the city quickly realized people had electronics and other items they needed to dispose of. ECS Refining collects the electronic waste and the Salvation Army takes everything that’s left over. Officials say that over 438,504 lbs. of material have been collected over the years.
ECS Refining disposes of all the electronics it receives in order to keep them from sitting in land fills. Items that can be recycled include anything electronic from TV’s and computer monitors, to hair dryers and espresso machines.
“I’m a big proponent for recycling,” said David Vartian, supervisor of sanitation for University Park. “Just looking at what the weight adds up to and knowing it doesn’t go to the landfill really helps the environment.”
Highland Park manager of town services, Kathleen Stewart, said McCulloch School is a huge help in letting them use the parking lot for the event. The school even helps advertise by sending its students home with a pamphlet.
“The School District works well together,” Stewart said. “High school students from the Youth Advisory Commission and Boy Scouts in the area come and help us out.”
*Disclaimer: Keagan Snively is a contributor for The Daily Campus.