Lee’s Summit families sad to see recycling program trashed that had provided money for schools

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LEE'S SUMMIT, Mo. -- Sometimes, money comes from things others throw away.

Families in Lee's Summit say their public schools are losing dollars, and their trash pickup company is to blame.

One Earth, One Chance. That's the name of a campaign staged by Deffenbaugh Industries, which awarded rebate money back to schools for collecting recyclables. Parents of students in the Lee's Summit School District say they're angry that money won't be there anymore.

A Lee's Summit School District spokesperson tells FOX 4 News 34 Deffenbaugh dumpsters, specifically designated for recyclable collection, have been placed at schools in the district. The dumpsters have helped the school system collect easy money. Parents were welcome to use the dropoff sites to deliver paper, plastic and other biodegradables at no cost while dropping off or picking up their students at school.

Each time Deffenbaugh collected one ton of recyclable material, Lee's Summit Schools received a $12.50 cash rebate, which added up to around $9,000 annually.

"Going into this school year, we were made aware the rebate program no longer exists and we were going to be charged to pick up those recyclables," Ron Cox, director of distribution with Lee's Summit Schools, said.

Lisa Disbrow, a spokesperson for Deffenbaugh Industries, told FOX 4 News the company stopped the program because the value of items collected has gone down, and the cost to pick it up has gone through the roof.

"People need to realize items in those recycling cartons will ebb and flow," Disbrow told FOX 4 News.

Cox says those rebate dollars were put back into each school, using them to buy things like student recognition plaques for spelling bee winners and clothing and shoes for students who were in need.

"That is a lot of money!" Jo Anne Holman, who has seen six of her children and grandchildren graduate from Lee's Summit High School, said.

"There's a lot of need that children have that their parents can't help with. I'm sure it would be good to get Deffenbaugh back or, if not Deffenbaugh, somebody else."

Disbrow added there was some abuse of the free recycling program, saying it wasn't uncommon to see items such as broken car parts and bowling balls thrown in with the biodegradable materials.

Stephen Arbo, Lee's Summit city manager, says there are other services available to pick up recyclables at residents' homes, but, unlike the "One Planet One Chance" program, they aren't free.