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Cycling and Recycling

Raising recycling awareness in Kansas on two wheels.

The Kansas Bureau of Waste Management (KBWM) recently sponsored the Recycle Cycle Bike Tour as a unique way to promote and encourage recycling across the state of Kansas. Local riders joined a core group of cyclists from the bureau to draw attention to noteworthy recycling facilities and practices along the tour route, which began at the Colorado state line and ended in Missouri.

Bill Bider, director of KBWM, says it seems to take forever to get across the state in a car going 70 miles per hour, much less by pedal power. In fact, it took the intrepid cyclists seven days to traverse the nearly 500-mile route. Bider was one of the core riders and also served as the primary spokesperson at the many events and press interactions along the way. “We chose a bike tour as a way to grab the attention of the media and public, and it worked,” says Bider. “We got their attention and then turned it to the facilities we were visiting to highlight many good waste management practices that are happening in the small and large communities along the tour route.”

One noteworthy stop included a ribbon-cutting ceremony for a new county recycling and household hazardous waste facility in the town of Greensburg, Kan., which was totally destroyed by an F-5 tornado in 2007. The town is being rebuilt with a focus on environmentally progressive design and construction. A stop in Wichita, Kan., highlighted the first implementation of the RecycleBank concept in the state, a program that rewards households for every pound of waste recycled. In Pittsburg, Kan., the cyclists helped cut the ribbon for a new regional e-waste and household hazardous waste facility.

KBWM is currently deciding whether to make the tour an annual event. “Several people have asked me if we are going to do it again next year because they want to ride along,” says Bider. “If we do, we will select a different route to highlight other facilities and activities.”

Bider says the event demonstrates that the responsibility of environmental agencies to educate and promote recycling can take many forms. He characterizes the tour as an inexpensive, unique and “healthy” way to draw attention to positive waste management practices and encourages other states to consider similar events: “Just make sure you have one or more good bike mechanics as part of your core group of riders, because repairs and maintenance will be needed.”

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