The recyclers: How the process works in Manhattan

By Anton Trafimovich

Curbside recycling started in Manhattan five years ago, when Mandy Scholz, a single mom, pondered ways to make a living from home while helping the community at the same time. She did it by establishing Go Green Recycling. Today three companies provide curbside recycling in town.

Scholz had just moved back to Manhattan at the time.

“I noticed that my mom was taking all of her own recycling to the recycling center and I saw an opportunity for this service,” she said.

Two years after Scholz, Justin Dodge, a recent K-State graduate, launched Carnahan Curbside Recycling. He still operates the business by himself.

Dodge, who had just completed MBA program in K-State, found the business idea worth trying.

“That’s something that the community needed,” Dodge said.

Both Go Green and Carnahan Curbside Recycling pick up recyclable material at curbside and drop it off at Howies Recycling and Trash Services. The area’s only recycling , it was started by Howard, Joann and Greg Wilson in 1984. They began with aluminum cans but expanded their recycling cycles to take in food and beverage glass, plastic jugs bottles, steel cans, paper/magazines, cardboard,  and newspaper as well. They also accept scrap metals including transmissions, radiators and car batteries.

For a long time, Howies only accepted drop offs at their recycling center, but they opened their own curbside recycling service in 2010. They now have 1,500 customers who pay for curbside recycling, although most of their material still comes from drop offs. Up to 2,000 people drop their recyclable material at Howie’s every week.

“Right now on Saturday sometimes 550 people come to this door in the morning,” Howard Wilson said.

Wilson said he buys non-trash metals. Although he doesn’t pay for paper, cardboard, plastic, glass, or cans he still recycles them. Howies operates from 7.30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and 8 a.m. to noon on Saturday.

The curbside providers agree that the Manhattan market still hasn’t reached its full potential.

“I feel that there is room for growth in Manhattan,” Scholz said. “The interest seems to go in stages and does reflect the economy at the time.”

Wilson said they also accept clothes that they bale for shipment to China. Another item they are starting to accept is e-waste.

Although there is a lot of glass recycling, Howies doesn’t pick glass up. Wilson received a $15,000 grant from Riley County to recycle glass that is brought in; otherwise, he said, he cannot make profit on it. The grant also goes toward recycling steel cans and plastic.

“But basically it’s always glass,” Wilson said. “Glass is losing money big time.”

Dodge provides curbside glass recycling.  He said that is one of the reasons why some people choose his company.

“There are a lot of individuals that want to recycle,” Dodge said “But they don’t have the time; they are busy during the week.”

Although Dodge still operates the entire business by himself, he finds it beneficial to stay in it.

“It’s definitely something that you get a lot of satisfaction because you know you are helping the community,” he said. “I know I’m doing something right.”

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