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SEK Recycling Center struggles to stay open - KOAM TV 7

SEK Recycling Center struggles to stay open

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Workers at the Southeast Kansas Recycling Center say they won't be able to stay open if they don't receive financial help.  Workers at the center say they began seeing financial red flags during the recession.  They are asking for help that they say is necessary to keep an important job in operation.

An organization that gives items a second chance needs renewal itself.

"It's pretty bad," says Tausha Ritz with the Southeast Kansas Recycling Center.

The Southeast Kansas Recycling Center in Pittsburg operates off donated, recyclable materials from people like Ken Orender.

"There's no sense in wasting what we have," says Orender.

These days, though, the SEK Recycling Center has less than before.  One reason why is drop off boxes throughout town, operated by a different organization, where people can take clothing and shoes.

"They can drop them off there anymore.  That's what people see as the best part about that," says Ritz.

Donated items from these containers are shipped to the Kansas City area.  

The SEK Recycling Center is also competing for cardboard.  More area businesses are giving away cardboard to another recycling company.

"They have these hug, metal boxes that's easier on the eyes.  It also keeps all the cardboard contained to one spot.  We just don't offer that," says Ritz.

So there's less product to begin with, and fewer dollars offered by recycling companies towards the SEK Recycling Center for what is at the facility.  Market prices for recyclable materials drop or stay the same.

"But not fully recover," says Ritz.

Workers at the recycling center say the center lost $69,000 last year because of fewer products coming in and less money received.  

Crawford County will give the recycling center $10,000.  It's money from fees from waste companies to use a landfill in the county.

"It should get us through the next couple of months," says Ritz.

That's because it'll cost about $5,000 a month to keep the recycling center open.  The county may give additional money to cover this operating cost for the next 3 years.  

But there are challenges.

"I recycle my books and electronic equipment, but that's all," says Pittsburg resident Sandy Michael.

And then there's the opportunity to recycle, keep a business open, and support local jobs.

"Very important," says Orender.

Of course, if market prices increase, the SEK Recycling Center would require less help from the county.

Watch the associated video to hear about what cuts the recycling center has already made to its staff and operating hours.

Click here to learn more about what items the recycling center accepts.

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