Daily Progress, Jacksonville, TX


October 5, 2012

Local fast food restaurant pioneers recycling efforts


 By offering customers a site to recycle foam cups, local Dairy Queen store owners Gene and Donna Brumbelow are hoping that in their own small way, they're helping make an impact on the environment.

“There's a void in (the recycling effort) for foam cups, nobody does that so we though we'd do them,” he said. “The Jacksonville (recycling) program at the landfill doesn't accept foam cups, so it's our way of making an impact, of filling a gap.”

Brumbelow credits his wife for jumping on the idea while attending a store convention and discussing recycling with a vendor they use for some of their products.

“We have a lot of people take their cups with them when they leave the store because they hold (the coldness of) the drink longer than paper cups do, so we asked how we could do something with that,” he recalled.

“The company we buy our cups from actually presented the program to us about two years ago, and we've had this in place for about a year,” Mrs. Brumbelow said “The response has been really good, too. People specifically stop in with their foam cups – even those from other stores – to recycle them.”

A cardboard box located near the entrance of the store, located at 1501 S. Jackson, sits under a sign that encourages recycling. It also tells readers that from their used foam cups, products like moulding, picture frames and nursery flats are created.

Store shift manager Scott Belk said response to the recycling campaign has been good, and that “the box fills up in about a week.”

“We're trying to encourage them to recycle, not just throw out their cups,” he said. “I've been to most of the (fast-food) restaurants around town and have not seen anything similar, so as far as I know, we're the only ones doing this.”

Once the box is filled, the foam cups are broken into smaller pieces, because “it makes sense to break them down as best we can, otherwise we're just shipping a lot of air,” Brumbelow said.

The Brumbelows are given pre-paid shipping labels to affix to the box that goes to an out-of-state address for recycling.

“I know that we're the only (store) in the state that is doing this, and Dart (which supplies the cups and supports the recycling program) says they're working diligently to get the program going with DQ statewide,” Mrs. Brumbelow said.

As a member of the Jacksonville Beautiful Committee, she said she sees merit in other restaurants adopting a similar program.

“I'd love it if all the stores in town did it, too,” she said.

Other recycling efforts in Jacksonville include those at WalMart, whose programs are endorsed company-wide. Customers are accustomed to seeing cardboard receptacles for plastic shopping bags in store entryways, and employees are encouraged to recycle cardboard and aluminum cans by bringing them to stores, according to a local store associate.

In July, the City of Jacksonville went green by providing a recycling bin at the Royal Oaks Landfill on Heath Lane, with funding provided through a grant from the East Texas Council of Governments.

Residents can take items such as cardboard boxes, newsprint, plastics and cans of aluminum, tin and steel.

Glass, waxed or plastic-coated boxes, plastic sacks, food in cans, laundry bags, shelves, toys, buckets and motor oil containers are not accepted.

The recycling bin is available for use from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.

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