Poarch Band of Creek Indians
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The Importance of Recycling

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In the heart of Poarch, Alabama, a remarkable transformation has unfolded over the past 27 years, led by the Environmental Department’s Recycling Program. What began in 1996 as a modest initiative, funded by a federal grant to purchase a single baler, has blossomed into a beacon of sustainability and community engagement.

Back in its early days, the program was a simple operation, focusing on collecting cardboard and shredded paper from an open shed for just a few hours each week. Fast forward to today, and the program has evolved into a comprehensive recycling hub, housed in a 4,800 sq. ft. facility at 4449 HWY 21, Atmore, AL. This state-of-the-art facility is where recyclable materials are collected, sorted, processed, and baled for sale, alongside a 1,200 sq. ft. building dedicated to storing baled materials until they can be shipped in bulk.

The journey of the program’s growth is a testament to the vision and commitment of the PCI Environmental Department. From its humble beginnings with two vertical balers and a forklift, the program now employs two full-time staff members and has expanded its collection to include a wide array of materials such as aluminum, PET/#1 plastic, scrap metal, electronics, batteries, fluorescent bulbs, appliances, and even Mardi Gras beads.

“Recycling for the Poarch Band of Creek Indians is not just about collecting and separating material but rather about building a sustainable community where every action contributes to a healthier environment and a brighter future for our future generations.” Kristi Weatherford, PCI Environmental Department Director.

The impact of this growth is not just measured in the diversity of materials collected, but also in the volume. In 2023 alone, the program recycled over 2 tons of plastic materials, equivalent to over 81,000 plastic bottles, and diverted over 328 tons of materials from landfills, equivalent to 19,656,384 aluminum cans, setting a new record for the community.

Beyond the numbers, the program has woven itself into the fabric of the community, actively participating in Tribal events by providing blue and green bins for collecting plastic and aluminum. It also collaborates with event organizers to collect cardboard associated with gifts and food, ensuring that the spirit of recycling is present in every celebration.

For those inspired to contribute to this recycling journey, the program offers two drop-off locations. The Community Recycling Trailer at the Poarch Creek Community Center is accessible 24/7 at 517 Martin Road, Atmore, AL 36502, while the PCI Recycling Center welcomes all approved materials Monday through Friday, 8:00 am – 5:00 pm, at 4449 Highway 21, Atmore, AL 36502. Both of these are open to the general public.

As the Environmental Department’s Recycling Program continues its journey, it stands as a shining example of how dedication, community involvement, and a commitment to sustainability can transform a simple idea into a powerful force for environmental change. Contact the PCI Environmental Department at environmentalinfo@pci-nsn.gov.

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