When students in EAST at Malvern Middle School decided to start a recycling program for the school, they had no idea they’d one day be working to write legislation to change state law.
The Code Green Recycling Project, like many others, began as an attempt to gather recyclables inside the school through weekly collections.
However, it grew from that original idea as students partnered with the county’s solid waste authority and learned more about both the recycling process and collection efforts. They researched the nine collection stations in Hot Spring County and what each collects, then used ArcGIS to create a color-coded drop off map for the authority to distribute to residents. Securing donated recycling containers, they also began education efforts in the school and promoted in-school collection contests.
Based on that success, they’ve now started exporting the project, using it as a template to implement collection programs in other Malvern schools, with a goal to have them spread to every school district in the county.
Additionally, in researching recycling, students discovered that electronics recycling in their county is shipped out of state to be processed by inmates in Texas, who remove the precious metals. Texas prisons then sell the metals and keep the profit. Seeing that the county loses money on this recycling, students decided to find out why electronic recycling is not kept in state.
Research led them to a state law that classifies electronics as hazardous materials, which can’t be handled by state inmates. The group then decided to reach out representatives in state government to see if this law could be changed. With the indication that it might be possible, they set about researching how the law could be rewritten.
The team hopes to have a bill to take to the Legislature for the 2017 regular session.