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story.lead_photo.caption Chris Hillen and David Speradino, right, toss their glass bottles and jars into the glass collection dumpster on the parking lot of Sav-a-lot Thursday, May 16, 2019. Photo by Julie Smith / News Tribune.

It's not the most flashy thing to talk about, but without grant funding, many communities in Central Missouri would not be able to offer their residents the ability to reduce the amount of waste going into landfills.

The Mid-Missouri Solid Waste Management District is going through small grant applications that have been sent into their office in Columbia and will do the same when large grant preliminary applications come in after the end of November.

Governments, schools, businesses, non-profit organizations or individuals may apply for small grants, which can be up to $10,000. The large grants can go up to $100,000 for projects in Cole, Audrain, Boone, Callaway, Cooper, Howard, Moniteau and Osage counties. A 15 percent match is required from those who are approved to get a grant.

"These are offered every year in the 20 districts throughout the state," Mid-Missouri District Planner Elise Buchheit said. "We do two grant processes every year, and they must be for ways to reduce or divert trash coming into landfills."

Buchheit said a lot of the grant funding in the last few years has focused on composting.

"We've worked to set up composting at homes and a project to do composting at schools in Boone County," Buchheit said. "We focused on the schools because food waste is one of the bigger components of landfills."

Jefferson City received a grant for $63,622.50 for a project that ran from April 2015-April 2017. The funds from that grant were used to purchase a new dedicated glass loader to more efficiently move glass from the purple Ripple Glass collection containers to the hauling trailers.

Buchheit said the equipment was vital to continuing the glass recycling program. Glass recycling is not offered by Republic Services, so the glass drop-off sites are the only option for residents to recycle their glass containers.

In smaller towns, Buchheit said, just basic recycling is limited so getting money to improve a current site or getting a recycling container to be placed in a community is something grant money is often used for.

"We also see a lot of grant money used to improve sites where illegal dumping is taking place," Buchheit said. "The goal of the grants is to provide consistent service for people to recycle efficiently."

During the pandemic, Buchheit noted many recycling services had to be reduced so some grants are being used to get those services brought back.

"Throughout Missouri, landfills are having to close because they are reaching full capacity and that makes waste disposal more expensive," Buchheit said. "That means increased travel times for trucks going to and traveling back from landfills.

"Tackling our waste problem is something we have to do now," Buchheit added. "The space is there now, but it's quickly being gobble up. This is an issue that cuts through all socio-economic levels. I think most people want to see us wasting less and conserving our resources."

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