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Recycling center looks to fundraising answer

BY CORIANNE EGANcegan@paducahsun.com

First, there was a November deadline for the Greater Paducah Sustainability Project, the city's only recycling center, to find a new home. Then the deadline was extended to March. Now, the deadline for GPSP to move out of its Eighth Street home will be extended for over a year.

GPSP founder and director Merle Paschedag said Saturday that the recycling center and Paducah Water - which owns the building GPSP currently occupies - agreed that the recycling center could stay in its place until June 30, 2015. The move comes after the group and city officials spent months searching for a new building and came up empty.

The city talked in February about adding a recycling provision to its waste management contract. Paschedag said he believes the city is going to rebid its waste management contract by putting out a Request for Proposals with a recycling drop-off added in, but he also added that GPSP's services far surpass those of a drop-off station.

"We provide many more services than just recycling," Paschedag said. "We solve problems. A truck rolls over on a highway and damages reams of paper, or there's old school desks or aged electronics, we take them. If others took them, they'd end up in a landfill. For corporate waste companies, this is about a dollar. For us, it's about the community."

The city is well aware of its need for recycling. A city-wide survey sent out to 1,200 Paducahans last year showed about 75 percent of respondents were interested or somewhat interested in citywide curbside recycling service. GPSP-RecycleNow has grown from a series of collection drives on Saturdays in a grocery store parking lot in 2007 to a full-service recycling center on North Eighth Street. The center has processed more than 6,000 tons of recyclable materials and employs eight people, six full time and two part time.

"We are taking a resource from the community, processing and selling it, and money comes back into community," Paschedag said. "A corporation would take that resource, ship it away, and the profit goes to its shareholders."

GPSP currently has $30,000 saved for its move, and believed initially that money would help with a move if the city chipped in. Last week, the organization started a $500,000 fundraising campaign that will hopefully allow them to raise enough money to build their own building. GPSP is using Crowdrise, a crowd-sourcing website, to solicit donations. The page allows anyone to fundraise for GPSP, but also allows one-click donations. Paschedag said the number one priority for GPSP will be fundraising into the fall and winter months. If the campaign does not go well, they will decide on other options.

"Now, the bottom line is a dollar, instead of being people and the environment," Paschedag said. "We are working with the city, and we will continue to work with the city, but we need to raise enough money to sit at the bargaining table. We are bigger than just a dollar amount, and our services matter. Unless that mentality changes in small communities like this, it isn't going to change worldwide."

Contact Corianne Egan, a Paducah Sun staff writer, at 270-575-8652 or follow @CoriEgan on Twitter.

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