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Waste service, Yuma Sun debut recycling curriculum
In the language of recycling, the printed version of this newspaper is a “commodity.”
Yuma-area schoolchildren can learn vocabulary like this and much more about recycling with a new partnership between the Yuma Sun and Republic Services. The Yuma Sun, with its Newspapers in Education (NIE) program, has partnered with the local private trash and recycling processor formerly known as Allied Waste to introduce a sustainability curriculum to students of all ages at all schools. Forms for interested teachers are available now at www.nieinyuma.com, and printed materials begin running in Sunday's Yuma Sun.
“The fun part is, it's going to come out in Sunday's comics,” said Karen Phillips, NIE manager at the Yuma Sun.
Derek Ruckman, general manager for Republic Services, said members of his staff are also working on the project with the city of Yuma, which recently approved a contract with Republic Services to provide residential curbside recycling as soon as May. Lessons will explain how recycling works, where it's going and where it's been, what doesn't work and general do's and don'ts of recycling, how landfills work, and how they're not necessarily a long-term solution.
The comics-section materials will run for nine weeks and will cover topics like composting. Students will also be encouraged to participate in a scavenger hunt to count up pictures of commodities — what can be recycled — in the paper and be entered in a drawing for a pizza party.
In the future, Ruckman would like to have presentations to take to schools specifically about curbside recycling, and maybe even illustrate the process by narrating the journey of an aluminum can once it leaves the blue sidewalk bin.
The pairing of newspapers and Republic Services seems natural enough, not just because the Yuma Sun is already a part of the classroom for some local teachers by way of the long-standing NIE program. NIE provides newspapers and complementary educational materials and lesson plans to K-12 schools as well as colleges, adult literacy programs, youth detention centers and other learning programs. Here in Yuma and environs, teachers from Dateland to San Luis are encouraged to use the Yuma Sun as an accessible, versatile “living textbook” for classroom lessons.
Newspapers are also a significant portion of what goes in recycling bins.
“Newsprint is the largest component of curbside material,” said Ruckman. “If you look at any community that has curbside recycling — co-mingled curbside recycling so not source-separated, so not like eight different containers at the curb — the largest component by far is fiber, or newsprint. It's not plastic, it's not aluminum, it's not glass. It's fiber and newsprint.”
That might be surprising, with the increasingly digital world, he said. But in Yuma, 34 percent of commodities is expected to be newsprint.
Interested teachers who don't already get newspapers delivered to their classrooms can go to www.nieinyuma.com to get on board. The site will also feature additional educational information on recycling, courtesy of Republic Services.