Neighborhood recycling center to see improvements

By Andy Ashby

Being green will get a lot cleaner in Cooper-Young as a new partnership takes over the recycling facilities on First Congregational Church’s corner at Cooper and Walker streets.

Local nonprofit Project Green Fork and Get Green Recycleworks, a private recycling company, are reorganizing the existing recycling center at First Congo, and will take on management of the site by the fall. Organizing the center will include increasing the number of pickups from two times a week to three with additional pickups as needed, such as on holidays.

They will be getting rid of the old containers, replacing them with two new 30-yard containers. The city will use the old containers elsewhere.

“We’ll be adding clearer signage and are looking into repaving the area as well,” Margot McNeeley, executive director of Project Green Fork, said. “Eventually we’d like to add lighting and native landscaping, maybe even edible, but that may be down the road.”

The recycling center is well used by Cooper-Young residents, Project Green Fork-certified restaurants and other businesses. However, the containers were often full and covered with graffiti.

“Seeing the center overflow encouraged us to explore increasing the center’s capacity,” McNeeley says. “The overflow meant that the Cooper-Young residents and businesses were doing the right thing, recycling as much as they could, but the center needed some help keeping up with the amount of recycling happening.”

The plan came together when McNeeley, along with Madeleine Edwards with Get Green, met with Andy Ashford, deputy director of public works for the city. Together, they worked out a plan to better the community’s recycling center.

“We were able to tap into Andy’s expertise of how to change the center into a more useable center,” McNeeley said.

Charlotte, N.C.-based ReCommunity provided the missing link to make it all happen: hauling of the recyclables and sorting them.

“This was great timing since ReCommunity is converting to single-stream recycling, which helps make recycling much easier for everyone involved,” McNeeley said.

They also met with Julia Hicks, pastor at First Congo, and discovered that the timing for them was good as well, because the church is exploring improvements for its space.

“We hope to install a sense of pride in a center that has been neglected and pretty much of an eyesore,” McNeeley said. “We also see more opportunities to recycle for Cooper-Young/Midtown residents and businesses. Cooper-Young is such a vibrant neighborhood, we want the recycling center to match that vibe.”

Project Green Fork and Get Green Recycleworks are also working with the Cooper-Young Community Association to invite local artists to help make the recycling containers fit with the look and feel of Cooper-Young.

If interested, please contact McNeeley at

Author: LampLighter

The voice of Cooper-Young, a vibrant, diverse neighborhood to live, work and play, in the heart of Midtown Memphis, Tennessee.

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