A regional recycling program involving Provo and cities in six Southwestern states is getting in gear.

Representatives from 20 cities in Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, Texas and Utah met in Washington, D.C., this past weekend to formally organize the Southwest Public Recycling Association. It should be operating by July 1.The association's primary goal is to buy and sell recycled goods and to encourage recycling. Officials were in Washington as part of the National League of Cities and Towns Conference.

Mayor Joe Jenkins said participation in the program allows Provo to set an example for residents.

"If government is not going to lead the way in purchasing and using recycled products, who is?" he said. The city currently buys some recycled paper, Jenkins said.

Working as a consortium, the 20 cities hope to establish stable supplies of recycled materials for marketing. The consortium also wants to promote that recycling benefits the environment and reduces the use of non-renewable energy sources.

"I think it's impossible for us as individual entities to really make a mark," Jenkins said. Salt Lake City and Ogden are also members of the association.

Each member city contributed 1 cent per capita to get the program going. For Provo, that came out to about $880, Jenkins said. The Environmental Protection Agency kicked in two grants totaling $40,000. The association estimates it will spend $105,000 in the first year.

Jenkins said he didn't know if the program will require a long-term financial commitment from Provo. The not-for-profit consortium hopes to become self-sustaining through the buying and selling of recycled products, he said.

The consortium will be run by a full-time executive director, a nine-member executive committee and a board of directors made up of 20 city representatives. Jenkins said he would like to be a member of the executive committee.

The program emerged from the Southwest Recycling Conference in Tucson, Ariz., in January.


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Municipal recycling objectives

A compact signed by the 20 cities with the Southwest Public Recycling Association, which includes Provo, lists several objectives for the organization:

- Strengthen market position and marketing skills for recyclable materials.

- Stabilize supply and demand and assure uniformly high quality standards for recyclable materials.

- Improve the demand for specific recyclable materials.

- Assist the development of regional businesses that use recycled goods.

- Develop consistent public policy initiatives.

- Develop a regional education campaign emphasizing recycling and minimizing waste.

- Establish a regional information clearing house.