Students from the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff showed up to lend a hand during the spring shredding and recycling event on May 3 at the Jefferson County Recycling Center on East Harding in Pine Bluff. The event was hosted by Pine Bluff Clean & Beautiful Commission and Jefferson County Recycling.

According to a study conducted at the University of Southern Indiana, the average household throws away 13,000 separate pieces of paper each year, with most being junk mail and packaging. If that number wasn’t alarming enough, when it comes to plastics, the same study reports that Americans use 2.5 million plastic bottles every hour and most of them are thrown away. In terms of glass, it is said the energy from recycling one glass bottle can run a 100-watt light bulb for four hours or a compact fluorescent bulb for 20 hours.

Locally, residents of Pine Bluff, White Hall and surrounding areas took advantage of the spring shredding event by bringing in bags and boxes of junk mail, some waiting around to ensure that it was being shredded.

The shredding event is sponsored by Clean and Beautiful and happens twice a year. Kelli Kennedy of Jefferson County Pine Bluff Clean & Beautiful contracts a shredding company to come to the Jefferson County Recycling Center to shred a limit of fifteen boxes of paper for the general public.

“They take specific things,” Kennedy said about the recycling center. “They use to take just about anything but it’s hard to get rid of some stuff. If you don’t have a company that’s going to recycle it for you, it just stacks up here. They take electronics, paper, white goods, plastics, glass, and some hazardous materials like cans of paint. We’ve had these events once in the spring and once in the fall for at least five to seven years and it has gone really well –people get real interested in shredding.”

Alicia Farmer, undergraduate coordinator for the Agriculture & Regulatory Science program at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, said it is important for the public to see that there is a business aspect to agriculture.

She said many of their graduates go on to work in regulatory compliance within different government agencies. She said it is important to their career that they get both classroom but and in the field training.

“When people think agriculture, they think farming but there’s more to it,” Farmer said. “There’s a business aspect to it. There’s compliance to regulations so our students don’t get a degree just to farm -you don’t have to have a degree to farm. I’m just trying to get the word out there that we’re not just agriculture -we’re compliance too and it all works together.”

The university’s Agriculture Department is recognized by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture as a Center of Excellence. NIFA recognizes centers of excellence in research, extension, and education in food and agricultural sciences. Farmer hopes this attracts more students to the field.

Jefferson County Recycling is open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday.