While most visitors to the Farm Progress Show are concentrating on the newest pieces of farm machinery, the latest technological advances and the working field demonstrations, Luis Perez, recycling coordinator for Macon County's Solid Waste Management Department, is concerned with boosting recycling and improving waste management at the outdoor farm show.
Instead of taking photos of the newest combine, Perez was photographing trash cans. "I was looking at the garbage. It's what I do," he said.
The Road to Recycling
The first show held in Decatur in 2005 did not have any recycling available. In 2007, 75 recycling receptacles were added. Those receptacles collected 1,200 pounds of aluminum and 6,250 pounds of plastic bottles. In addition to the consumer recyclables, 7,890 pounds of cardboard and 3,600 pounds of paper from exhibitors were also collected. Perez estimates that only 10% of potential recyclable material was collected.
With that in mind, an even bigger initiative was planned for the 2009 Farm Progress Show. The number of recycling receptacles scattered throughout the show grounds was doubled to 150, efforts to recycle cardboard and paper continued, and a pallet collection program was started. While some pallets can be reused locally, broken ones are turned into landscaping mulch or can be used at local schools for art project materials.
Recycling Convenience and Everyone Benefits
The extensive recycling plan launched for the 2009 show resulted in a recycling rate of 68%. The recycling program collected expected items such as aluminum cans, cardboard, paper, plastic bottles, tin cans and wooden pallets. Additionally, some items not usually collected for recycling at events were included in the program, such as electronics, fluorescent bulbs, refrigerators, tires and wood scraps.
Green Plans for Future Shows
Even with this substantial increase in recycling, plans are already under way for the 2011 event. "Recycling and evaluating how garbage is handled are topics that will continually be addressed and improved. With the help of Macon County's Solid Waste Management Department, the Farm Progress Show is leaps and bounds ahead of where we started in 2005," says Matt Jungmann, national shows manager.
Intensified recycling plans for the 2010 Farm Progress Show are underway with the goal of building the Boone, Iowa, site's "green" profile, as well.
The 2010 Farm Progress Show takes place east of Boone, Iowa, Aug. 31 and Sept. 1-2. For more detailed information, visit www.FarmProgressShow.com.