America Recycles Day promotes efforts locally and around the country


While recycling is a year-round effort, one day is set aside to educate, motivate and make recycling bigger and better.

Today is America Recycles Day. The Keep America Beautiful program is a nationally recognized day dedicated to promoting and celebrating recycling in the United States.

Every year on or around Nov. 15, events are conducted to educate people on ways to recycle and the benefits of recycling.

Debbie Hackman, director of the Jackson County Recycling District, also said it’s a time to thank the folks who recycle and reflect on all of the resources that have been saved because of recycling.

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“It’s really important that we recycle right, so learning to put in only what can be recycled,” she said.

That’s where the phrase “If you have a doubt, throw it out” comes into play.

Locally, the only items that can be recycled are paper, glass bottles and jars, plastic bottles, metal cans and cartons.

“We used to say, ‘If you have a doubt, put it in,’ but that’s not what we do anymore,” Hackman said. “It’s pretty easy to think about what can be recycled once you think about it.”

Mixed paper products accepted by Rumpke include junk mail, magazines, phone books, newspapers, cardboard, clean pizza boxes and paperboard.

With plastics, Hackman said the acceptable items have changed over the years.

“Recycling changes a lot, and it recently changed to where we don’t take No. 3 through 7 plastics,” she said of the number on the bottom of the bottles surrounded by a recycling logo.

“Things like butter bowls and Cool Whip containers and yogurt containers, we don’t take those anymore,” she said. “We don’t even pay attention to the numbers anymore. The numbers are misleading because the numbers tell you that it can be recycled somewhere, but maybe not here. Because we’re in the Midwest, we have to recycle only what our buyers can sell or can use.”

If you call it a bottle or a jug, it can be recycled, Hackman said.

“If you call it a container, it cannot,” she said. “Even though a Folgers coffee container looks like it’s the same plastic as a Tide detergent bottle, we can’t recycle that container.”

The cartons include those used for milk, juice and broth.

“That’s something that’s relatively new. People don’t realize they can recycle those,” Hackman said. “We have some of the schools doing it.”

Metal cans made of aluminum and steel also are acceptable, as are glass bottles and jars.

Rumpke picks those up through its curbside residential recycling program available in Jackson County communities.

That program is one reason local residents are recycling right, Hackman said.

“We have a very good percentage that recycle in Jackson County compared to other counties,” she said. “It’s just some kind of a mindset, and it might be that we’ve got curbside in so many communities. Plus, in the rural communities, a lot of rural residents, they are farmers into protecting the environment, so that’s natural for them to want to recycle. We have a lot of farmers that recycle.”

It’s also key that recycling is done at all of the county schools, she said.

“The kids do it at school, so they come home and expect they should be doing it at home, as well,” Hackman said. “It may be just peer pressure: ‘Well, Mom and Dad, recycle, so I guess I better recycle.'”

Kids recycle because they know it’s important for their future, she said.

“Many of them will say, ‘Well, we want to be able to have trees when we grow up’ or ‘We want to be able to have landfill space when we grow up,'” Hackman said. “The kids, if you ask them why they recycle, it’s for their future. They understand it’s for their future.”

Hackman said Bernie Bryant with the Seymour Department of Public Works educates students in Seymour and is able to tell which ones are taking the message to heart and sharing it at home because she receives calls from those neighborhoods asking about recycling.

“We know the kids have gone home and talked about it, so we know there’s an impact that’s happening,” Hackman said.

Another way she can tell education is working is when she attends local events where recycling containers are used.

“You can see the public events where people use the containers right because they know how to use them,” she said.

Recycling also is promoted on local radio stations multiple times a day, and tips and other information about recycling are posted on the Jackson County Recycles and Seymour Department of Public Works Facebook pages and the marquee at the corner of O’Brien and Tipton streets in Seymour.

“We talk about it a lot,” Hackman said.

While she said Jackson County residents do a good job with recycling, there’s always room for improvement. She’s willing to talk to individuals, schools and groups about recycling initiatives.

“If somebody has an idea of something they can do for the community, we’ll support them with containers or funds — whatever needs to be done to make it happen,” she said.

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With grant funding from the Indiana Department of Environmental Management, Rumpke opened the Medora Recycling Center in 2017, which has increased recycling opportunities for residents and businesses in Jackson and surrounding counties.

The Medora Recycling Center processes approximately 600 tons of recyclable material per month, collected from residential curbside and drop-off box programs and commercial customers. Rumpke accepts cardboard and residential recyclables from a wide portion of southern Indiana, covering a 50- to 100-mile radius around the facility.

Loose cardboard collected from area schools, businesses and institutions is baled at the recycling facility and shipped to Pratt Industries in Valparaiso. Recyclables collected through Rumpke’s residential curbside program are transported to the Medora facility, compacted and sent to Rumpke’s regional recycling facility in Cincinnati, Ohio, for final processing.

Recognizing a need for increased recycling in rural areas of southern Indiana, Rumpke requested $175,000 in grant funding from IDEM to expand the Medora Recycling Center. The expansion calls for increasing the length of the existing 5,500-square-foot tipping area, the construction of push walls to better contain recyclables and an enclosure to divert water from materials. Last week, the Indiana Recycling Market Development Board voted unanimously to approve the proposal, which will increase capacity and bolster recycling opportunities in Jackson County and beyond. Rumpke will invest an additional $175,000 in the project, which is set to begin next year.

Rumpke accepts the following items in its curbside residential recycling program:

  • Plastic bottles and jugs
  • Glass bottles and jars
  • Cartons (milk, juice and broth)
  • Metal cans (aluminum and steel)
  • Mixed paper products (junk mail, magazines, phone books, newspapers, cardboard, clean pizza boxes and paperboard)

Source: Rumpke Waste and Recycling

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For information about America Recycles Day, visit

For information about recycling in Jackson County, visit or


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