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Source: Buffalo Rising

Buffalo Recycling Alliance Launches Today

BY SARAH MAURER

Posted: May 15, 2012
Originally Published: May 10, 2012

Several organizations will be joining forces to promote recycling in our community and to push Buffalo's recycling rates to match and, eventually, exceed the national average. This collaboration is being spearheaded by the Partnership for the Public Good (PPG), who received a grant from the Community Foundation to work on boosting Buffalo's recycling rates, made it a priority in their 2012 agenda, and has since reached out to Buffalo First, Sierra Club Niagara Group, Citizens Campaign for the Environment, and the Olmsted Center for Sight to form this alliance.

The public launch event will take place at the Olmsted Center for Sight today, May 10 at 10 a.m. Speakers from the participating organizations will be present to discuss how businesses and multi-family residences in Buffalo are required to recycle and how they can benefit from doing so. Community members will learn how recycling can save taxpayer money, reduce pollution, and generate jobs in Buffalo.

Guests will hear from Sarah Bishop, executive director of Buffalo First; Dan Genco, director of manufacturing at the Olmsted Center for Sight; Rahwa Ghirmatzion, executive director of the Ujima Theatre; Sam Magavern, co-director of the PPG; Cara Matteliano, vice-president of the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo; Lynda Schneekloth, chair of the Sierra Club Niagara Group; and Brian Smith, program director at Citizens Campaign for the Environment.

According to Sam Magavern, co-director of the PPG, Buffalo's current rate is 16 percent, whereas the national average is 34 percent. It is important to the organization that they reach out to residents, businesses and schools, especially those who currently aren't recycling. "The Buffalo Recycling Alliance will work with block clubs, churches, civic groups and other partners to spread the word about how easy and beneficial it is to recycle more, and how Buffalo now recycles many more items (such as all plastics numbered 1 through 7) than it used to," Magavern said.

"Oftentimes, our small business owners are politicized and falsely accused of hindering policies that promote sustainability," said Sarah Bishop, executive director of Buffalo First. "However, we see time and time again that local businesses have been the leaders in recycling and other environmentally-friendly practices. This is their community, and they want what's best for it. Over the past year, we have seen a significant rise in awareness and the recycling rate due to small business owners. Advocates like Sarah Schneider of Merge and Melissa and Kevin Gardner of Five Points Bakery are just two examples of Buffalo entrepreneurs that have made a strong case for recycling from both the bottom line and triple bottom line (people, planet, prosperity) perspective. We look forward to contributing to the Buffalo Recycling Alliance by ensuring that recycling rates for local business is well above the national average."

The launch event will also highlight the Olmsted Center for Sight's innovative shredding and recycling program. This nonprofit organization partnered with Great Lakes Storage to offer shredding and recycling of paper. "Three visually impaired people now have full time jobs at Olmsted operating the shredder," said Magavern. "Olmsted also shares in the revenue from the recycling operation. They serve many businesses in downtown Buffalo, Amherst, and elsewhere. Their customers find that they are saving money by recycling more and throwing out less."

Guests at the launch can witness the Olmsted Center's shredding operation for themselves. There will also be other educational displays, such as a set of common recyclable items that many people may be throwing away and a recycling truck.

For those interested in becoming active in the Buffalo Recycling Alliance, the organization will be meeting the first Wednesday of every month. The first meeting will be held Wednesday, June 6 at 5:30 p.m. at the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo, located downtown at 712 Main Street. To learn more, email sam@ppgbuffalo.org or call 852-4191 ext. 117.